The coronavirus pandemic is upending life as we know it. The nationwide lockdown was first announced on March 24, 2020, shutting down everything from state borders, workplaces, restaurants, cinema halls and malls. And ever since then we've been confined to our homes. While we are privileged enough to have a roof over our heads, life came to a standstill for many. Many migrant workers were trapped far away from their homes, daily wage workers lost their livelihood, and people from lower-income groups were not able to get their hands on essential commodities.
During the first seven days of the lockdown, sanitary napkins were not listed as essentials because of which the supply was halted. It was on March 29 that the government included it in the list of essential items and the manufacturing of sanitary pads was allowed. However, the supply of the sanitary pads still remains disrupted for economically disadvantaged and rural women.
We're living in unprecedented times, and we've been hearing stories of people emptying grocery stores. But there are also acts of kindness that have been inspiring us. India's star athlete Dutee Chand is one such example. Dutee has been distributing free ration in her village, called Chaka Gopalpur, in Odisha’s Jajpur district. And along with rice, sugar, and some namkeen, she is also distributing sanitary napkins.
The sprinter took special passes from the authorities in the state capital and drove down nearly 70 kms from Bhubaneswar to her village to distribute sanitary pads along with other essentials.
“People need all the help they can get during this coronavirus pandemic and food is on the top of everyone’s mind. But we do forget there are other essential things, which people need but may not talk about openly,” Dutee said in an interview with a leading daily.
Dutee personally visited each home and distributed pads.
“Sanitary pads are very important for the health and hygiene of women. But in villages, it is not available at the moment and women won’t talk about the shortage. Also, they can’t afford it now because no household has income and whatever money they have, they use it for food. Sanitary pads cost Rs 50 to Rs 60 per packet at least. Medical shops are also shut most of the time near my village," Dutee added.
More power to you, Dutee. Fear and panic can bring out the worst in people, but it can also provide inspiring examples of people choosing to be kind. We hope more people come forward and go the extra mile to help someone out, or cheer them up.