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SKV Sankalp 

One Undertaking, Many Outcomes

·        Improves women’s hygiene,

·        boosts indigenousmachines, 

·        provides jobs in anentrepreneurial venture,

·        gender-sensitization  

·        community  service.

 

 The girls at Scindia Kanya Vidyalaya, Gwalior, India, were  looking for opportunities to provide  meaningful community service in  and around their city.  Their  research and surveys showed that a large population of Gwalior lives in slums, with no access to basic services like water and sanitation imposing a severe hardship, especially on the female population. Hygiene and cleanliness which is vital to women’s health is poor and on the lowest priority. Awareness and availability of hygiene products like sanitary napkins is absent.  Where the basic needs for life are not available, these women can’t think of buying expensive sanitary napkins available in the markets. Thus these women resort to unhygienic alternatives ranging from rags, leaves and even sand !

The Principal Mrs. Nishi Misra and the students recognized this problem and applied themselves to finding  a  way to supply sanitary napkins to the underprivileged women of 2 villages. After intense brain storming and research,they identified a low cost sanitary napkin manufacturing unit. This fully indigenous machine was  designed, created & tested by Mr.A.Muruganantham of Jayaashree Industries, Coimbatore. The machine had been awarded the National Award for Best Innovation by the then President of India,Mrs. Prathiba Patil.  This machine uses bio degradable materials like banana fiber to make low cost sanitary napkins and  can be run by students after minimal training.

Excited at theprospect of this hugely meaningful service, the students set about finding waysto finance this machine and the first consignment of raw material. Funds  were raised  from Funfairs, HouseSales, contributions from Alumni  and  from The  Friends  of Round Square, an international  organisation  of which  the  school is a  member.  The machine  arrived  and was  installed  amidst great  curiosity  and enthusiasm  among  the students  and  staff.The simple  training  for working the machines was  imparted  to a pioneering group of staff and students.

The simple machines  are  laid out  on  8 stations --  each  the size  of  a student’s  study  desk. The  process  begins with  tearing  the raw-cotton sheets  and  mixing with binding cotton  in  a Mixer Jar.  The  material is  weighed  and 12 grams of material is portioned into  moulds  which  are   compressed  under  an air-powered  stamp. After inserting a water-proof strip,this initial  napkin  is sealed into absorbent tissue-cloth. An adhesive  is  applied and  covered  with a  strip of oil-paper which can be stripped off to set the napkin in place. A maternity  version with  longer  ‘tails’ is  also  being manufactured. At the end of the assembly line,  the napkin  is  sterilised in  a  UV chamber.  Sets  of  8 napkins are  packed  together with  cling-film and  are ready  for  distribution.

The studentstarget to  distribute  the napkins  to  250 women  in  the villages  of  Zagra, Sausa  and   on the  outskirts  of Gwalior with a sustained and unbroken supply.  Batches of students spend time with the womento educate them about the use and disposal of the napkins.  The huge demand for the product has set  the students  to work out  a small  scale  industry model  to  make it  self-sustaining.  The model  holds the possibilityof  being transferred  to  villages as  an  entrepreneurial  venture too. There  is  a huge  demand  for the  product  since it  costs  just Re 1/- per napkin.

Since this willbe an ongoing program, the raw material will be purchased from funds collectedthrough charities conducted from time to time. The students  contribute ‘shram-daan’ (service by labour) andearn ‘volunteer  hours’. Boys and girlsof many member-schools  of  Round Square in the country and abroad, have signed up for the ‘shram-daan’which will go a long way in  gendersensitization.

The initiativeof setting up this unit to produce and distribute sanitary napkins to underprivileged women,  is named “SKV-Sankalp”- a resolution taken by SKV girls to help women to live with dignity.