Minhaj Ameen writes: Project Puchki has impacted 70,000 students in 1600 schools across 6 Indian States through 80 interns. It is our to take Project Puchki to all rural households of India and create awareness amongst millions of students who are currently outside the gambit of fundamental education on environmental sustainability, sanitation and menstrual hygiene.
Environmental degradation is one of the most pressing issues of contemporary times. The evolution we are making as a species is invariably affecting our planet in an adverse manner. The problem becomes graver in the context of ‘developing countries’ like India where the government is focused to provide a sense of basic livelihood and increase in GDP while the environmental issues take a back seat. The barrier is the lack of space for conversations on climate change, resource pollution and abundant waste generation which are becoming impeding disasters with every passing second.
The economic cost of estimated premature mortalities associated with PM2.5 and O3 exposure is about 640 (350–800) billion USD in 2011, which is a factor of 10 higher than total expenditure on health by public and private sectors1. Pollution related deaths in India are only expected to rise with the worsening environmental situation unless the government implements stringent actions and there is a significant societal shift. earth&us was founded on principles that tackle these fundamental challenges: innovating sustainable solutions for an environmentally conscious planet. Project Puchki is one of our initiatives that propagates and acts on this belief.
Project Puchki is an initiative to create awareness in the areas of soil and water conservation and fight stigma against menstrual hygiene to maximise positive impact in rural India. Puchki is the embodiment of girl child empowerment. It strives to kindle societal change at the grassroot levels through a comprehensive layered methodology. The aim is to bring about behavioural change and create awareness on the significance of sustainable living and menstrual hygiene.
Project Puchki was born out of the need to spread awareness on environmental degradation and menstrual hygiene to the social pyramid base: children, especially in the rural context. Statistical data indicates that at least 20% of girls in India drop out of schools at the onset of menstruation. 60.4% of Indian population lacks sanitation facility access. This sheer magnitude of girls dropping out of schools across India drove us to pivot the project around the term Puchki, a name commonly referred to little girls in households across India. We endeavour to empower the little ‘Puchkis’ in each and every household!
It had become imperative to reach out to the most impressionable segment especially in rural areas to create greater impact. The targeted students presently are not exposed to the curriculum of environmental education and menstrual hygiene. Moreover, it is a taboo to talk about these issues in rural India. Very soon millions of these students would become ‘creators and consumers’ and we believe that it is extremely important to introduce concepts of sustainability and sanitation to these students in their formative years.
The project is implemented through a workforce of interns particularly women from the local Universities. The selected interns relate to the local challenges, converse in the vernacular languages with students and propagate the message with essence of local folklore and stories. We train and expose these interns to experiential learning modules and lead them to become role models and change makers in the field. This transformative process imparts a greater meaning to the overall impact of Project Puchki.
It is not only the end result which creates impact in rural schools across India but the process itself is designed to bring about a transformative change in the interns’ lives. We believe in an innovative holistic approach to find the most sustainable solutions and Project Puchki drives us towards that goal. Nothing makes us more empowered than witnessing the change Project Puchki is bringing about in the thousands of students, especially the girl child, in remote parts of India.
Project Puchki has impacted 70,000 students in 1600 schools across 6 Indian States through 80 interns. It is our to take Project Puchki to all rural households of India and create awareness amongst millions of students who are currently outside the gambit of fundamental education on environmental sustainability, sanitation and menstrual hygiene.
1Premature mortality in India due to P.M-2.5 and Ozone Exposure, Geophysical Research Letters