- 09 January, 2019
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In Renigunta Mandal, tucked in Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh are 4 quaint villages which are soon going to see transformation; thanks to one fierce girl – Vengavasi Ashwini, currently a student of nursing, is on a mission!
Ashwini has recently been selected by Ashoka Youth Venture as a change maker and here’s why. As a student of nursing, she is working to debunk myths regarding personal hygiene and adolescent health and strengthen the community in adolescent care.
As a period of physical and psychological development to adulthood, adolescence is a crucial time, especially for girls. Due to the lack of awareness on personal hygiene and care, there is a high rate of illness and malnutrition among adolescent girls in this community. This added to the fact that child marriage and early motherhood is common, puts the girls in the villages at great risk.
When she enrolled in her course, she realized that her community had been following age-old practices which were in fact harmful and wanted to bring change to accepted systems such as child marriage and home-births. Poor economic conditions and larger caste based problems of the community generally push adolescent healthcare to a back seat.
Since majority of women and adolescents in her community lack education, Ashwini aims to utilize the knowledge she acquires, to spread awareness to them. She also intends to involve her fellow classmates to conduct frequent counseling sessions and create a forum for adolescent girls to discuss their problems. In addition to this, Ashwini is in the process of creating a handbook on adolescent health which will specifically address the issues in the community.
Ashwini believes that her approach will be impactful since unlike a traditional approach, she follows a peer-to-peer initiative which is based on shared comfort levels and openness with the expectation that sharing of thoughts of ideas and participation will be more. Also, since she is from the same community, she is able to tactfully address the issues since she has first-hand knowledge about them.
In the coming months, Ashwini is attempting to train 20 girls from across Chitoor who would in turn spread awareness in their communities. She would like to ensure that all children of her community, across 10 villages, are aware about basic adolescent healthcare and are capable of taking care of their own personal hygiene and menstrual health.
Here’s wishing Ashwini luck and we are sure she is going to be the force of change in her community!