Non-profit aims to provide women in rural India sanitary menstruation hygiene

A Sacramento native wants to help women of India acquire personal hygiene products.

Periods. Menstruation. That time of the month. Whatever you want to call it, it's natural. And it happens to all of us...well, the women anyway.

Imagine living somewhere where it's not only awkward to talk about, but it's just not allowed. Some girls grow up not even knowing what it is, until it happens.

That's the case in many countries still, including certain parts of India. It's something that affected and bothered Tara Celli, a Sacramento native.

Celli studied Sociology at UC Santa Cruz. She went to India as part of her Everett Program required to graduate. There, she worked with women at a detention center. She quickly realized these women weren't criminals.

"One third of these women were there for marriage crimes," Celli said. "Basically a girl would run away, and got married outside of her cast."

Celli quickly learned in many parts of India — a sexist, patriarchal type of culture — still existed.

"We're hoping to improve the lives of young women in India in a sustainable way," Celli said. "What we've been doing is working with young women from violent backgrounds. While we've been doing that, realized there's a lack of information of menstrual hygiene."

Celli explained that many women in India she met didn't even know about periods growing up.

"They freak out," Celli said. "My co-founder actually has a Master's degree. She thought she was dying of cancer when she got her first period."

Celli said that while in India, she learned commercial products like pads were too expensive or not provided in many areas.

"Really, you can only find pads in cities," Celli said." [Many women] use old pieces of sarees, which are really common. It's not [very sanitary.]."

Celli said many older women who live in villages don't wear underwear. It's unclear what exactly they use, but it's taboo to talk about.

Through her non-profit, Strength India, Celli and her co-founder hope to teach women how to drive and have them deliver pads on a monthly basis. It would provide jobs and pads for women in India.

The money would go back into the programs that Celli started a year ago. Celli said she finds so much fulfillment in what she now feels like is her life's purpose.

"It's hard as hell. Sometimes I'm like 'I'm done,'" Celli admitted. "But it's exactly what I'm supposed to be doing. It's perfect."

Celli will be heading back to India in January to test our her project. She'll be focused on rural areas like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Karnataka.

For more information on Strength India or if you'd like to get involved, click here.

Copyright 2016 KXTV


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