As mentioned in our earlier blog post, our Imphal-based team mate Chitra Ahanthem has been assessing needs and coordinating distribution logistics locally in the flood hit districts of the State. She recently conducted a menstrual health awareness session in Chumnang community Hall, Kakching region. This village is in the Thoubal district of Manipur, one of the worst affected by the floods. While the younger women of the village did not mind transitioning to the modern branded sanitary napkins, the older women were still comfortable using handmade cloth sanitary pads. Chitra and the Incrisisrelief team worked in tandem to procure bulk sets of cloth pads from Goonj in Delhi and distribute them to the elder women of this village. Around 120 women of Chumnang received the sanitary pads.
It was also during this female hygiene awareness session that the women opened up and spoke without inhibitions. Questions arose as to why this hadn’t been thought of earlier? Or why hadn’t anyone taken into account women’s requirements in a post calamity situation? Needless to say, the session and the distribution of pads was a huge success and we received very positive feedback from women of all ages while those who missed out on receiving the pads looked forward to getting them from us in forthcoming events. An added advantage of holding these feminine hygiene awareness sessions is that the male members of the volunteer team have become more sensitive and empathetic towards women’s needs.
Distribution of pads will continue this week and will be done as part of a special event exclusively for the women. This is because, as Chitra observed, combining the general item distribution (such as food packs and toiletries) along with the awareness and the sanitary pads distribution for women resulted in confusion and awkwardness. The younger women had many questions to ask, not just about the usage of the pads themselves, but also about menstruation, such as how to reduce the cramps and so on. The lingering presence of males in the hall prevented these women from expressing and discussing issues openly. Hence, the idea is to keep the general relief distribution and the feminine awareness programs as two separate events.
Meanwhile, DSSS team also distributed rations and food packs in areas such as K. Molnom. People from far off areas like Warkhu, Patjang,Tuichim, K. Laitui, S. Munnomjang came to K. Molnom to collect relief as their places are not in motorable conditions. The DSSS team reached out to Singheu, Rungchang, Rhingphae, Tengnoupal, Chelep, and other areas.
They found that the most needy ones usually are those who are far from the towns and are also victims of either floods or landslide. Because of bad roads and other conditions, they are often deprived of medical attention as well as relief materials.
A lady from Paldai (30 kms from Chakpikarong which has bad roads) came all the way to narrate the conditions of the people there. Being a tribal, she said, they don’t stay in the relief camps but had to manage in one of the relatives’ houses. However, the relatives themselves were poor and could barely manage to feed themselves let alone feed others. The lady and her family felt they were burdening their relatives, but they had run out of options now.
Partnering with Goonj also meant that the Goonj staff such as Mr.Iftikar Ahmed and Mr. Romen accompanied the DSSS team to Tengnoupal and saw for themselves first hand the suffering of the people due to landslides.
In recent days, Chitra and team also held another aid distribution at Wangjing in Thoubal district, where they distributed relief to 60 households.
They also covered some of Wangoo (which is partly in Thoubal district and partly in Bishenpur district) .
We are grateful to our partners Air Asia, Indigo, Goonj, AnyBodyCanHelp, and StopHungerNow for their continued support to us.
You can view photos of the flood aftermath and relief efforts here:
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(click on each image to expand further)
This is just a start though and there is a long way yet to go. Please continue to support us so that we reach out to more!