Three years at Baala, and I haven’t had enough! Working with Baala has by far been the most rewarding journey I’ve embarked on since college. Getting to work with such impactful minds has not only imbibed in me a sense of being, but also the constant thirst to learn and do more.
My Motivation To Join Baala
I decided to volunteer at Baala, because I had never heard of anyone doing the kind of work they do. Getting to interact with its founder during my interview also consolidated my perspective on how to tackle issues at the grassroot level. Seeing that our visions align on these issues aided me in making the decision to work with Project Baala. The fact that Baala is here to make an impact and ask for nothing in return from the communities, caught my attention. Moreover, my interest in consumer behavior assisted me in making my decision and helped me identify and understand issues women face with menstruation. I gained a fresh perspective while recognizing their needs, which later contributed to the rich conversations I had with these women on menstrual health.
The First Experience of Conducting a Workshop
My first time with Baala was in October 2018. My team and I went for a three day workshop to Alwar, and interacted with over 5000 girls. We went in teams of three and covered 27 schools in 72 hours! During my first workshop, I felt a rush of emotions that helped me break down why we do what we do. Imagine sitting in front of a bunch of shy but curious girls, teaching them that what they go through every month is as natural and beautiful as any other phenomena, that’s when you realize, the work you’re doing is as inspiring as it is impactful. Dealing with so many women made me realize how fortunate I am to have this opportunity to educate and empower communities. So I tried to use it to my maximum advantage. On ground workshops are a learning space for you too since it requires you to be empathetic, flexible and alert. The young girls you meet always have a story to tell, a joke to laugh at and a question to ask. It’s in your control to steer them in the right direction and impart information that they can tell their families when they run back home after school. And that in itself is so powerful. Ever since then, workshops I’ve conducted, be it on-ground or online, have been enriching in every sense. Getting to see the knowledge you have imparted being spread across communities and leading to behavior changes, makes you feel accomplished and is humbling at the same time.
Doing What is Right
Baala’s cohort exhibits extremely high levels of passion and the ability to work through challenges. Their sharp focus on doing what’s right, than doing what’s socially desirable is delightful to see. I recommend everyone to be a part of this phenomenal experience because the impact that you’d be making on someone’s life is unparalleled, while also enriching your own experiences and perspective. To empower a young girl, a woman, and lead them to the correct destination takes courage. It takes even more courage to break preconceived notions and barriers that women uphold. You see your efforts come to full fruition. It’s rewarding to see the difference you make in a little girl’s life. To see that even though you met only once but she still remembers your name and asks for you, feels like receiving a cake even when it’s not your birthday. My time with Baala has been an adventure and, in some ways, a journey of self-discovery. It has exposed me to realities I was previously unaware of and questioned my preconceived views. I now have a newfound admiration for our strong rural communities and their openness to learn and overcome stigma.
Lets Rise Above the Myths and Taboos
I am convinced that this initiative opens the door to growth, change, and new thinking, but I am also aware that we have a long way to go. Every day, women encounter a number of different obstacles; it is difficult to live in a world that does not provide support and comfort to a gender that is more vulnerable to external violence. To create space for a more safe and secure environment, we as a society must rise above all of these myths and taboos, and thanks to Project Baala for taking a step in this direction!
About the Author — Myra Rao, is a volunteer at Project Baala from last 3 years. She is a fresh college graduate ready to take on the world one step at a time. In her free time she likes to cook, make reels on Instagram and read papers.