MUMBAI: For Archana Ambre (25), who comes from a humble background and resides at slums in Mankhurd area of Mumbai, going to some ‘foreign’ country was a dream.
Her dream has come true as she would be attending the Royal Wedding in London tomorrow. Thanks to the ‘Myna Mahila Foundation’ – the NGO where she works as a manager and the royal couple Prince Harry and Meghan Markle who have chosen the Myna Mahila Foundation as the recipients of charity at their wedding.
“I’ve always dreamt of visiting some foreign country even though I’ve rarely travelled much beyond Mumbai. Flying in an airplane too was a dream. Both the dreams have come true. I’m really feeling great,” Archana told the New Indian Express from London.
Archana is accompanying Suhani Jalota, founder of the Myna Mahila Foundation and two others from the organization, who will attend the wedding at Windsor Castle on Saturday.
“All of us are very excited. It’s a very big thing for a small organization of ours to get the recognition of this kind at what can be truly termed as the global event,” said Suhani.
It was about a couple of years ago when Suhani – then 21-year-old student at the Duke University in North Carolina who had won Glamour magazine’s College Women of the Year award - happened to meet the Hollywood star Meghan Markle at the award function. Suhani had won the $20,000 for the Myna Mahila Foundation that helps women from Mumbai slums to manufacture their own sanitary napkins, and sell them to their community at a fraction of the cost of regular napkins.
“Ms Markle had been in touch with us since then. She even visited us at our office in Govandi last year and saw the work for herself. She had also written about the foundation in the Time Magazine. But, this is really a grand gesture,” Suhani said.
Myna Mahila Foundation is the only non UK based charity in the list of seven organisations chosen by the royal couple.
Myna Mahila Foundation works around generating employment for women living in slums, improving menstrual health affordably, and creating networks of young female entrepreneurs. Currently they have a team of around 35 of which 15 manufacture the sanitary napkins while 20 go out to various slums across Mumbai. Archana handles this team of 20. “We have some 3,000 regular customers as of now. But, we shall have more very soon,” she said.
Archana, who couldn’t complete her education beyond standard 12, had worked with another NGO earlier, is happier working with Myna Mahila Foundation. “Here I’ve got an identity of myself,” she said.
“The stigma attached to menstruation is the biggest hurdle in maintaining menstrual hygiene and we are also working on various aspects related to the stigma,” Suhani said.