We had plenty to do and discover on Day 3. Here’s a small summary of each session! And yes, there’s a surprise… we had a special reading of the Vagina Monologues. Read on!
Talk to Me!
To be honest, we got off to an awkward start. Dr. Uma Pocha, whom we knew as an expert on interpersonal communications, asked us to fill a really embarrassing form on our sexual histories. We felt invaded and a little annoyed. But in an hour our opinions – of the session and Dr. Pocha – had changed! Using very interactive exercises, Dr. Pocha showed us that communication is not only a skill, but an art!
Dakshitha Wichremarathne from Sri Lanka, and Dr. Uma enacted a scene (playing husband and wife, and eliciting many giggles) that emphasized the need for eye contact. Before she wound up the session, Dr. Pocha asked us to take a look at the form, and think about the awkward space into which we were placing women we met in the course of our work. She urged us to remove our shoes, and step into theirs every time we asked them to share sensitive stories from their lives.
What Does My Vagina Say?
We had planned to watch Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues on Day 4, at the Pheonix but realized much to our dismay that there would be no reading that weekend. But Poorbox productions and its staff, Kaizad Kotwal and Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal, actually put together a special reading just for us!
After the 11a.m. tea break, we settled down to a brilliant performance by Mahabanoo Mody Kotwal, Spatica Ramanujam and Sonali Sachdev. It won’t be wrong to say that we were enthralled. The script also had surprises – Poorbox had modified it for a Mumbai audience by adding Hindi swear words, and Indian accents.
Kaizad Kotwal also gave us something to look forward to. Poorbox Productions is joining Eve Ensler and other feminists to promote the campaign One Billion Rising, which urges people to drop whatever they are doing on Feb. 14 and dance to protest the violence inflicted on women around the world. It’s part of the V-day campaign, which you can read about here. Will our participants dance? They certainly seemed very, very eager!!
After lunch we got to hear Manish Kumar, who in his own words can be called a magician. Manish Kumar designs games, puzzles and tricks that make it easier for activists to discuss sexual and reproductive health. His work has found its way into the Limca Book of Records.
He and his assistant Ramesh brought along with them several of his creations that illustrated his twin mantras “Think Outside of the Box”, and “Think Differently”. When I asked him how he came up with these, he simply shrugged and said, “It has been a hobby since high school”. The participants toyed with his games well into the 4p.m. tea break.
Hotlines, Blogging and Samsara:
Them came Inna Hudaya, the Founded and Director of Samsara. Inna is a self-made woman, and an idealist whose enthusiasm and dedication is very infectious. Samsara, which currently has eight counselors, runs a Misoprostol hotline that ASAP helped set up, and offers pre- and post-abortion counseling to hundreds of Indonesian women.
Meeting Inna, and listening to how she progressed from being a blogger to the director of her own organization was very inspiring! Participants saw in Inna’s organization a model they could emulate.
Who are you connected to?
I should say the participants were pretty exhausted at this point, and I felt very much like that strict schoolteacher who keeps you after hours! Yet, we managed to discuss social networks – channels on social media for social change! They mapped their contacts, and though it was a little difficult to think of specific people and organizations off the top of their heads, they charted some very interesting maps, which I hope will evolve into extremely well connected networks.
In all, it was a grueling day, as this long blog should tell you! But it was also a satisfying one. In how many ways can you talk about reproductive health? We discovered there were many. But what would we tell our audience? To learn that read the update on Day 4, which is coming soon on this space.
You can take part in the discussions and write to us anytime. We are planning to tweet updates from the YAI using the hashtag #ASAPYAI. We are also posting photos to Facebook, and reports to our blog! For regular updates from ASAP please subscribe to our blog.