Published: 13th March 2019
Meet Kamal Nayak, a UN fellow, who started Good Universe and is doing all he can to help spread sexual and menstrual awareness
A lot of information disbursed at the camps in slums is visual and several diagrams are used to explain the content better
There are several women crusaders who give their all to causes like sexual reproductive health and menstrual health of underprivileged women, but how many men care about such causes? Names like Arunachalam Muruganantham, the Padman of India, come to mind. But there are others out there doing what needs to be done for this cause. One such youngster is Kamal Nayak. He pursued BSc in Animation from Picasso Animation College in Bengaluru and has worked on Nagarjuna's film Damarukam and then, when he realised his true calling, without a second's pause, he took up a Bachelor's course in Social Work from Osmania University in Hyderabad. Though the Odia boy born in Cuttack did not know Telugu, he did his best to visit slums in Hyderabad, understand their plight of the people, drink chai with them and form bonds. He started Good Universe in 2016, received the Social Achiever Award and was even chosen as a fellow for the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network for which he travelled to New York. "There are 40 participants and only two are from India," says Kamal. As a part of the network, they undergo a three-month course online, delivered by lecturers from Harvard and such, and what do they have to do after? "We have to work on SDGs to us in our area. I am working on SDGs 3 and 5, which are, Good Health and Well Being and Gender Equality respectively," explains the youngster. Towards the end, they need to develop an idea and if their idea is accepted, then, the sky is the limit.
Hold it up: During one of the sessions conducted by Good Universe | (Pic: Kamal Nayak)
Talking more about what they do at Good Universe, Kamal informs that, "Sometimes, we don't understand our own anatomy at all." Yet, despite all the taboo, they continue to propagate the use of menstrual cups and cloth pads and have also spoken about Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (a hormonal disorder) in slums. "Everyone talks about physical and mental health, what about menstrual health? Anxiety, mood swings, depression, there is so much women go through," says Kamal. "Also, from a young age, even the men need to know about menstruation," he says. But while proposing the idea of taking an awareness session for both boys and girls together about reproductive and menstrual health in schools, they are shunned. "Our very basics are not right, we can't keep complaining when our basics are not right," he says, exasperated. But Good Universe continues to do their bit. They've spoken about it already to 11,390 women, both in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, and to 1,200 boys and want to do a lot more. "We have three different curriculums for our sessions, one for slum dwellers, for young adolescent girls and for women. We are designing a curriculum for corporate women as well. Every single workshop is a challenge, but we try and do our best," he says. It's an uphill task, but they are going to see it to the end anyway.
All attention: Good Universe conducting one of their sessions at a school | (Pic: Kamal Nayak)
Kamal used to run a cafe of his own called Charity Cake in Kondapur. People from slums were employed to bake cakes for Infosys, ICICI and other such companies. They used to receive about 25 orders per day. When we ask him the fundamental question, how tough it is to be a man and talk about these topics which women might be uncomfortable discussing, Kamal asserts that it is easier in an urban setup. While at other places trained doctors and female teammates take care of it.
For more on him, Visit facebook.com/ThatKamal