Focussing on adolescent girls

Bicycles being given to girl students.
Bicycles being given to girl students.

When Jhulan Basu assumed office as District Governor of D 3291, he decided to concentrate on improving the lifestyle of girl children. “With Rotary’s amazing reach I felt we can do wonders in making their lives worthwhile.”

As the year progressed, Basu with his team of Rotarians devised various schemes which aimed at enhancing education and better health for girls.

Bicycle ride to school

Rotary clubs across the District set about distributing bicycles for high school girl students hailing from poor families. The clubs were directed to receive applications from the students with details such as income/residence proof of parents, distance between school and home and a declaration attested by the schools that the applicant has not received a bicycle under any other scheme. The project was operated through a 50:50 partnership with club and district and 220 bicycles were distributed between July and September.

Rotary clubs and RCCs of the District are setting up libraries in schools lacking the facility. Book shelves, furniture and books are being donated to these schools and children are encouraged to read exhaustively. About 50 schools have benefitted so far.

Personal hygiene

A majority of adolescent girls are not aware of the significance of personal hygiene and its impact on their health; this is because parents lack knowledge on such issues and resort to unsanitised methods that results in reproductive tract infection (RTI), says Basu. Gynaecologists believe that use of sanitary napkins reduces the risk of severe RTI and cervical cancer in women. Adolescent girls miss school five days every month due to inadequate menstrual protection, and many of them drop out of school at puberty.

The Rotary clubs are installing sanitary napkin vending machines in school premises through which sanitary napkins are provided at Rs 2.50 each. Trained health workers will deliver counselling regularly to girls in schools on personal and health aspects. “The concept of such vending machines is new in West Bengal and the schools have appreciated this approach from Rotary,” says the DG. The District plans to install incinerators in schools to hygienically dispose of used napkins.

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