Vinutha , a Class 9 student of G Palya village in Gauribidanur, and her school mates were puzzled when their teachers asked them to get their mothers along for the ‘special’ class to be conducted by software engineers the next day.
The next day, when a team from Bengaluru walked in, the students were surprised to learn that the class was not about computers or technology but one of the least discussed topics in the village — menstrual hygiene.
Krishna Kumar, the headmaster of that school, said a majority of the female students and their mothers were unaware of the proper method of using sanitary napkins until they attended the special class.
Many girls even skipped regular classes during menstruation, which in turn affected their education. The awareness programme has improved the health of the girls and their attendance, he said.
The team visiting the school were volunteers for Samarpan, a trust formed by employees of Infosys in 2004. With over 3,000 active volunteers, the organisation mostly works in rural areas.
“As per our written commitment, we take up social works dealing with health, education, rural development, skill development and women empowerment,” said Mahesh Kumar, one of the founding members of Samarpan.
Awareness and training
Under its various rural outreach programmes, interested members visit remote villages in the most backward districts of Karnataka. They identify the problems there and try to address them.
Till now, they have donated computers and science kits to government schools and imparted computer classes. They have also provided reusable sanitary pads to girl students and created awareness about menstrual hygiene.
Youths have also been provided with skill development training.
The volunteers have even stepped forward during floods and other natural calamities and distributed relief materials in Bagalkot, Raichur, Yadgir, Kalaburagi and even in parts of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.
Ritesh Ageton, one of the core members of the group, says being part of Samarpan had benefited him in two ways: Visiting rural areas and helping those in need not only gave him unparalleled contentment but also helped him beat work-related stress.
During the Covid-19 lockdown, the volunteers of Samarpan ensured food supply to migrant labourers and ration kits to people affected by the pandemic.
“As a trust, we can’t address individual cases. We are more than willing to lend our hands to issues that affect a community, a region, or a cause that falls within our written commitment” said Yathish Siddakatte, a core member.
Over the last 16 years, the members of Samarpan say they have helped bring about changes in more than 10 lakh lives, including hundreds of youths who were skilled to start their small businesses.