When the lockdown was announced, all Tia could think of was, “Our 10th boards have been postponed!”. After months of preparation, she could finally take a break. But as the pandemic got worse, her ‘relief’ turned into ‘guilt’.
#COVID19 cases had doubled up overnight, thousands were going hungry and organisations were working hard to crowdfund meals. On a call with her best friend Niketa, she could only ask one thing – “What can we do to help?”. That night, Niketa’s maid came over to collect her salary and in a hushed tone asked, “Didi, pads chahiye tha”. Most medical stores in her area were shut and the rest were running low on supplies. Some families could hardly scrape together their next meal. So how could they afford pads? It hit Niketa – this was the unspoken need of the hour.
“We devised a plan to distribute relief kits amongst women in slums. It contained soap, shampoo, sanitary pads and a mask. We asked for donations online and within a week, we raised ₹80,000 and made 1000 kits” said Niketa.
The local police stepped in to help reach out to these women. They located the areas in Bangalore and even escorted Niketa and Tia there.
With the necessary precautions, they went door-to-door to give these kits. The stories they heard over there still give them goosebumps – one girl talked about how she used a torn cloth, which she had to hide and reuse. The risk of infection was high, but most had no option but to silently endure.
When they saw the relief on the women's faces, they decided to keep going. They fundraised aggressively and talked about menstrual health everywhere. Now, they’re about to kickstart the next round of distribution.
“It's scary sometimes, being out there on-ground when everyone is home. But knowing that we can make someone's life a tiny bit easier, is what makes it all worth it.”.
Tia Poovayya and Niketa Khanna are determined to make a change – because periods don’t stop for pandemics and pads can no longer be a privilege.
These are the #PeopleWhoRise and Mahindra salutes their challenger spirit. If you know someone who’s doing their bit to help the community fight this crisis, tag them or share their stories with us in the comments.