HYDERABAD: It was summer vacation when Sindhura Devalaraja, visited India three years ago. She wanted to put her time to good use and decided to volunteer with a non-profit in Tirupati, where her uncle lives that looked after physically and mentally-challenged orphan girls.
“I noticed that a few girls would not be at the centre on certain days. On those days, the care takers wouldn’t allow us to come near the bathrooms, because it was a mess,” recalls Sindhura, now 12th grade student in Boston, United States.
Every month when the girls went through their menstrual cycle, it was easy for the caretakers if they were around the wash area. Lack of water and use of cloth were two major issues they had to deal with.
Sindhura was only 13 then. “Though the scene came as a shock to me, I couldn’t do much,” she says.
Two years later her aunt, A Padmaja Prasad, shared what she was doing and she decided to team up.
“I learnt about how cervical cancer was common among young girls (early 20s), mostly because they lived in unhygienic conditions – especially during their periods. I explored my options and decided that providing sanitary napkins was what I could do,” says Padmaja, a nutrition consultant-turned-entrepreneur, who started Designer Foods
“11 years ago I wanted to create something that offers healthy food options. That’s how Designer Foods came about where we have tied up with corporates. The profits of my company are being diverted to this cause,” explains Padmaja who visits the five NGOs she tied up with in Hyderabad, every month to distribute napkins. “These girls study in government schools and miss classes for almost a week every month. This simple idea of giving them napkins has helped increase the rate of attendance,” she informs.
These napkins are procured from a wholesaler in Bahadurpura at the cost of Rs 2.15 each, too less a price for their decent quality.
When Sindhura heard about the idea, she felt that she could help by raising funds to widen their reach. At present they are providing for 850 girls,(including visually -impaired and orphans).
“I started with investing a part of cash awards I won in various competitions. My parents and their friends also contributed. Currently, we have enough money to aid 500 girls for the next five years,” beams Sindhura.
The 17-year-old has spent the last two months visiting NGOs they have tied up with here in the city.
“My aunt will be moving to Puttaparthi this weekend to start her work in villages around that place. I will expand the distribution here,” she shares and informs that a website is in its developmental stage. “That will help channelise the process further,” she feels. And, Padmaja is already reaching out to girls in villages.