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                                              SUCCESS STORIES

Story of Madhu, A Beneficiary of Heeals’s Sanitation, Safe Drinking Water and Girl Child Education Awareness Project


Name: Madhu 

Age: 10+ 

Area: New Delhi NCR Region


The Heeals Team first met Madhu in April, during a workshop organized at a school in the Mullahera Village, located in Gurgaon (Haryana, India). The workshop was created to educate children on the effects of bad sanitation facilities & unsafe practice of drinking dirty water. The workshop helped show and educate them on what they can combat disease and issues arising from low awareness regarding menstrual hygiene, sanitation and safe drinking water practices. The children were taught that it was necessary to pass on the information to their parents and their brothers and sisters and friends.

During this workshop one of our team members, Chinu came in contact with Madhu. Chinu found that Madhu’s attendance was increasingly declining at school, she told our team member that she frequently felt sick and this meant that she was unable to attend classes. Most of time she suffered from symptoms of diarrhea, gastroenteritis or food poisoning and more which more than likely were caused due to unsafe water and bad sanitation facilities and she was no doubt also entering puberty age which further aggravated her problem. 

Further interactions with Madhu revealed that a huge lack of awareness towards sanitation, menstrual hygiene and safe drinking water practices was creating a major problem in this area. So the Heeals team then decided to start a workshop to tackle these issues to create awareness and educate the locals of the dangers, illnesses and safe practices that they needed to be aware off.

We educated them in the ways of obtaining safe drinking water, how to keep their environment and surroundings clean & hygienic, we also told them to follow good hygiene practices both at school & at home.

And after our numerous visits at Madhu’s school, we have realized that Madhu’s attendance had improved dramatically, in fact by 100%. She now looks forward to a promising career and a full time education after conquering her illnesses due to poor sanitization and hygiene

To know the actual results, we have spoken to Madhu’s teachers and got good response from all of them and it seems that she is now performing well in her studies and has ambitions of completing all further education. The Heeals Team again spoke to Madhu in month of December 2012, and now she is very happy, she has become more confident and is not hesitant in speaking on such issues because she is able to concentrate more on her studies rather than on constantly being ill, she also told us that she is now following these good practices on regular basis and keeps her parents, siblings, friends and neighbours informed about the benefits.

More recently Madhu has also become the Sanitation Supervisor in her school, who monitors good sanitation & safe drinking water facilities in the school premises.

Methods used by Heeals in creating awareness:

  • IEC Tools- banners, posters, interactive games, various techniques regarding proper hand wash.

  • One to One sessions with students and our female colleague

  • ICT Tools-: SMS messaging to their parents, sanitation films for children viewingSanitation to Interact.

We are constantly working toward making more and more girls aware about Education, Sanitation and ways of obtaining Safe drinking water, with your benevolent support we can move across states and boundaries to target more and more girls and families to make their lives healthier and happier.


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Anjali is an 18 year old girl living in a rural village in one of India’s poorest states, Uttar Pradesh. She spends her days helping with cooking and cleaning in the house having been forced by her father to leave education early. For Anjali and her family life is hard. Her father is very poor, she tells us. He cannot afford to build them a toilet and cannot provide the money for sanitary napkins, although she would not ask as menstruation is not discussed with men in this community.

Without access to a toilet Anjali must manage her monthly menstruation in a field.  If she is to clean herself, then water must be collected in a bucket from the village pump and carried with her. Learning from the actions of her sister, this field is also the location for the disposal of her used cloths. She sees no other option in an area where there are no bin facilities.  Anxiously shifting from foot to foot Anjali describes how she feels embarrassed when she is on her period,   exaggerated by the fact that she is prevented from entering the kitchen or worshiping during this time as she is considered unclean.

Taboos around menstruation result in misinformation, stigma, fear and exclusion. They prevent women from reaching out for support and lead to poor menstrual hygiene practices. In a culture where silence around menstruation pervades it is most often these taboos and restrictions that are observed by children and passed on through generations rather than good hygienic practices and biological facts, many of which the mothers themselves may not be aware.

HEEALS is working to educate girls and women like Anjali about good menstrual hygiene practices through workshops and consistent monitoring and evaluation to understand the unique circumstances and challenges of each community. Workshops include education on how to manage menstruation in a way that promotes good health and enables girls to continue with their studies.  It also encourages girls to speak openly with each other about their experiences and for mothers to educate their daughters on the topic.

Tackling social stigma, cultural norms and lack of awareness is an important first step in empowering women to manage their menstruation hygienically and with dignity. However economic barriers remain a significant obstacle preventing women such as Anjali from acting on information about menstrual health, affecting accessibility to sanitary products and appropriate facilities for maintaining hygiene, changing pads in privacy and disposing of them in an environmentally safe and dignified manner. Bringing men into the menstrual hygiene management conversation, as the primary decision makers on where money is spent, will be an important first step in prioritising expenditure on accessibility to products and infrastructure - a difficult task in a culture where there is an aversion to dialogue about ‘intimate’ subjects.


Sourav, a 42 year old farmer, and Naskeer, a 40 year old tailor, are two men living in the same community as Anjali. Neither Sourav nor Naskeer believe that it is important for men to be educated about menstruation. The primary concern of Sourav and Naskeer around menstruation is its significance as the entry to womanhood and ability to bear children and subsequently the need to control their daughter’s sexuality.

In Sourav and Naskeer’s village menstruation is intertwined not only with sexuality but also with stigmas about impurity which have been passed through generations.  It is vocalised beliefs such as these which help to propagate taboos that inhibit women’s ability to carry out their usual daily routine. There is a lack of understanding about the broader implications of reproductive healthcare, particularly amongst men, and discussion about menstrual hygiene is often avoided due to a culture permeated with an underlying aversion towards menstruation.

Educating communities, rather than just women, is a necessity for fostering more understanding attitudes, mobilising social support for combating taboos and increasing access to facilities to enable good menstrual hygiene practices. Men and boys have a specific role to play in communities supporting their wives, female relatives and friends in their menstrual hygiene. In particular, as head of the family, villages or schools, men are often key to decision making that affects the provision of menstrual hygiene services that allow women to manage their menstruation with privacy and dignity.  Men can therefore play a significant, positive role in realising change. By mobilising the support of the whole community, the scope for feasible solutions and actions is expanded and change sustained.

Engaging meaningfully with men and adolescent boys about menstrual hygiene management currently presents a critical gap to influencing cultural attitudes around menstruation. HEEALS is working to sensitise men to the importance of menstrual hygiene. A key barrier is the association of menstruation with sex and it is clear that different approaches need to be developed to successfully integrate men into menstrual hygiene education.   Engaging men in the conversation can be aided by de-linking training in menstrual hygiene practices from sex education, bringing it out of the sphere of potential religious or ethical offence and into one of health maintenance. However to succeed this must be done gradually and with great sensitivity.

Voices of our beneficiaries




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