September ushers in a nationwide celebration known as Rashtriya Poshan Maah, aligning perfectly with the POSHAN Abhiyaan launched in 2018. This event spotlights the vital role of education and nutrition in nurturing well-being.
One resonant story is that of Barsha—a spirited 15-year-old from Latti village in Jammu & Kashmir's, Udhampur district. Her family had been grappling with economic hardship, for a number of years, prompting relocation to an industrial area in Jammu three years ago to look for greener pastures. Her parents, Jagdish Raj and Rita Devi, found a job working at a factory working long hours in a new workplace and amidst new people, all in the pursuit of a better future for the children Barsha and her 17-year-old brother.
In the midst of adapting to a new place and working long hours to make ends meet, the family encountered a new challenge: their daughter, Barsha, was diagnosed with menorrhagia, a condition characterised by abnormal uterine bleeding.
What Research Tells Us
A study(1) sheds light on the gynecological challenges faced by rural women. Shockingly, more than half (65%) of the girls examined in the study experienced menorrhagia. This underscores the heightened risk of gynecological problems and menstrual disorders among young girls in rural areas. It underscores the crucial need for menstrual health education to pave the way for a healthier future.
"Attending school during those days posed challenges, and our economic situation limited our access to proper nutrition. She enjoyed outdoor activities and cherished moments with friends, had to make a drastic change. After being diagnosed with menorrhagia, she had to avoid physical activities, including sports, to prevent worsening her symptoms, which could have been dangerous," said her mother.
Amidst these trials, Barsha encountered the life skill sessions of Magic Bus India Foundation at Government Middle School Barjan. Initially, she assumed a more passive role during the initial life skills sessions. The youth mentor, learning about her physical condition, respected her choice. However, during the second session, something shifted. Barsha summoned the courage to attend and witness the activities, even if she didn't actively join.
The breakthrough happened during the third life skill session when Barsha approached the youth mentor herself, confidently expressing her desire to participate. From that day forward, Barsha actively assisted the youth mentor in coordinating activities. This subtle boost in her confidence illustrated the empowering potential of life skill sessions.
"In the beginning, Barsha was hesitant about joining our sessions and occasionally found reasons to skip. However, when I first met her, I didn't pressure her to attend; instead, I invited her to observe one session. To my delight, during that session, Barsha appeared genuinely happy and actively engaged with her friends. From that point on, she didn't miss a single session," shared Gurpreet Kour, Senior Youth Mentor at Magic Bus India Foundation.
Although Magic Bus hasn't introduced dedicated menstrual health programmes yet, our Youth Mentors provide essential counseling to adolescents in need.
“Barsha acquired valuable knowledge about foods that boost red blood cell production and learned to manage her diet for menorrhagia. This was particularly crucial in her case, as anemia can worsen due to menorrhagia. Nestle Health Kids Programme’s (NHKP) health and nutrition guidance were instrumental in helping Barsha maintain a balanced diet and manage her condition effectively,”added Gurpreet.
Gearing Up For The Future
While her overall health has improved, Barsha's menstrual health has always been uncertain.
"Her medical journey began at a nearby wellness centre, but despite a month of treatment, her condition showed no improvement. In search of solutions, we sought guidance from the zonal hospital. Eventually, the doctors advised us to seek advanced care at the district hospital. Over the past three months, she has received treatment there, and her condition has stabilised with ongoing medication aiding her recovery," her father shares.
Barsha’s journey has illuminated the interconnectedness of education, nutrition, and well-being. The substantial impact of Magic Bus' life skill sessions focusing on nutrition and hygiene is unmistakable in her enhanced health and overall well-being.
She now stands firm in charting her life on her own terms, driven to enhance her family's quality of life, and nurturing aspirations of stepping into entrepreneurship someday.
Barsha shares, "While our school imparts education, Magic Bus's youth mentor has revolutionised my life and reshaped my perspective on the future. Despite my health condition, the magic instilled in me by this mentorship has kindled hope and belief that anything is possible."Back