An Acumen Fellow and two-time TEDx speaker, Akshai founded Project KHEL in 2012 – an amalgamation of his love for sports and co-curriculars with his interest in working at the grassroots level.
An MBA from the prestigious Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM), Bhopal, he has over 12 years of experience including 10+ years in the social sector in the areas of research, program development, project management and organization building and also a year’s international experience as a cultural exchange intern in Austria.
Prior to founding Project KHEL, he was the Program Head of the Development Metrics Group at the Center for Development Finance (CDF) – IFMR, Chennai where he spearheaded a team of researchers and programmers and managed a million dollar grant project funded by Google.org. Akshai has also been involved with social sector studies commissioned by international agencies such as the World Bank, USAID, UNICEF, etc. and also worked with Aide-et-Action, an international NGO where he worked in education development programmes.
An avid sportsman and enthusiast, and a committed non-profit professional, he envisions the use of sport and interactive play techniques to provide innovative educational and leadership development opportunities to children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Akshai is dedicated to nurturing agents of change in the communities he works in.
With a Masters degree in Gender studies from the Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development, Angana is also a certified Life Skills trainer. During her graduation, she was an active member of the Street Theatre circuit of University of Delhi where she scripted, directed and performed street plays at prominent platforms such at Ateliers youth theater festival. She has also represented India at the 50-day ‘Ship for World Youth Programme’ in Japan in 2012. She has been a core team member of Project KHEL since 2012 and has played an intrinsic role in designing, initiating and leading the Menstrual Health Management (MHM), Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) and Puberty related programmes. A storyteller at heart, she has actively been engaged in curriculum development based on play, theater, discussions, craft and various other creative means. Her belief in the power of innovation and art have essentially made her responsible for the management of organizational team on a day to day basis. At the same time, she is also actively engaged in the strategic framework of Project KHEL. Apart from in house trainings, she has designed and successfully facilitated various external workshops and trainings for other organizations and institutions.
The sessions conducted by Angana are innovative and interactive in nature and she ensures that a gender sensitive approach is seamlessly adopted in everything she does.
Arushi is a B.Com graduate and a Certified Financial Planner. Always being inclined to be on the field and work for the betterment of the underprivileged, she decided to purse a career in the social development sector and is completed her Masters in Social Work from Lucknow University. She was actively involved in sports activities back in school and Project KHEL was her means to reconnect to sports and games. She loved interacting and playing with kids and the concept of Project KHEL, teaching beyond classroom and bringing a change through games. She no longer does sessions regularly but remains an important team member through her involvement from afar whenever needed.
Kamzason is a certified Life-skills trainer having done his M.A (Life-skills Education) from the Rajiv Gandhi National Institite of Youth development, Chennai in addition to a Bachelors degree in Social Work from MLC University in Meghalaya. In addition, he is a national level footballer, having represented the Silchar region. Kamzason was with Project KHEL for more than 1.5 years. While he was with us, he spearheaded several initiatives including Life Skills Education, Football, Music, Substance Abuse and Civic Responsibility. Kamzason continues to be associated with us in various ways and, in his own words, “cannot leave Project KHEL”.
Taboos and Myths surrounding menstruation (e.g. restrictions on entering the kitchen or temple, preparing certain foods, touching other people) make it difficult for Girls and Women to See menstruation as a natural phenomenon and talk about it. The negative impact of poor MHM is immense.
Following are some of the facts mentioned by Dasra in their report, ‘Spot on! Improving Menstrual Health and Hygiene in India’, which highlights exactly the problems that we are trying to work towards.
- 70% of mothers consider menstruation ‘dirty’, perpetuating a culture of shame and ignorance
- 8% of menstruating women in India use home-grown alternatives like old fabric, rags, sand, ash, wood shavings, newspapers, dried leaves, hay, and plastic
- 63 million adolescent girls live in homes without toilet facilities
- Girls are typically absent for 20% of the school year due to menstruation, which is the second major reason, after household work, for girls to miss school
- 70% increase in incidence of reproductive tract infections owing to poor menstrual hygiene
What we do
Made in Maidaan is our regular programme, which harnesses the ‘Power of Play’ for development through a series of modules designed to impart crucial Life Skills Education (LSE) though experiential learning and activity based learning models.
Target group – Exclusively meant for adolescents, aged 9-18 years, from underprivileged backgrounds and is completely free of cost.
Structure – Sessions at each beneficiary location are held on a semi-weekly basis and consists of both sports as well as Life Skills Education. In addition to these sessions, the programme conducts specialised thematic workshops and modules from time to time which aim to arm the beneficiaries with awareness on issues such as Civic Responsibilty, Personal Hygiene and Self Presentation, Safe Handwashing, Peer Pressure, Tobacco and Substance Abuse and so on.
The NACO website says, “Most young people become sexually active during adolescence. In the absence of right guidance and information at this stage they are more likely to have multi-partner unprotected sex with high risk behaviour groups… “
With increasing exposure to television and internet sex education does not imply teaching kids about sex, which knowledge they will pick up anyways, but for many proponents of sex education it definitely means teaching them about what safe, healthy and acceptable sexual behaviour is.
If we were to go by the data published by WHO, sex education should be imparted to children who are 12 years and above. It has also been seen that it is the age group of 12 to 19 years that counts for some 34% of the HIV infected persons in the world.
Recent literature on adolescents have documented that irrespective of being relatively healthy period of life, adolescents often engage in the range of risky and adventurous behaviours that might influence their quality of health and probability of survival in both short and long term over the life course. These includes early pregnancy, unsafe abortions, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV, and sexual abuse and violence. Pregnancy related problems comprise a leading cause of death among adolescents aged 15–19 years, mainly due to unsafe abortions and pregnancy complications. However, the sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescents and youth are poorly understood and grossly underappreciated owing to limitation of scientific evidence compounded with the unpreparedness of public health system, which may jeopardize the initiatives to advance the health and well-being of adolescents.
Adolescents and youth in India experience several negative sexual and reproductive health outcomes such as early and closely spaced pregnancy, unsafe abortions, STI, HIV/AIDS, and sexual violence at alarming scale. One in every five woman aged 15–19 years experience childbearing before 17 years of age that are often closely spaced; risk of maternal mortality among adolescent mothers was twice as high as compared to mothers aged 25–39 years. Importantly, adolescents and youth comprise 31 percent of AIDS burden in India. Furthermore, multiple socioeconomic deprivations further increase the magnitude of health problems for adolescents. This limits their opportunity to learn and access the appropriate health care services.
The WHO report (2003) on family life, reproductive health and population education documented that promotion of family life/sex education has resulted in delayed age of entering into sexual relationship, reduced number of partners, increased use of safer sex and contraception, and other positive behaviour. It was further noted that sex education in schools did not encourage young people to have sex at earlier age; rather it delays the start of sexual activity and encourages young people to have safer sex. However, both the critiques and proponents of introducing family life/sex education in Indian schools propagate the analogous ideology of ‘sexual restraint’ i.e., delaying the initiation of sexual activity among adolescents before marriage, which may also help to curtail the menace of HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases and restrict the pace of population growth. A recent study from Nigeria presents paramount significance of providing sexual education to youth that helped them to develop critical thinking and insights on range of family life/sexual issues like premarital sex and pregnancy, abortion, teacher-student relationships and lesbianism. Another study in Indonesia suggests the mixed viewpoint on the pros and cons of sex education among youth . Proper information about sexuality should be provided to youth to help them grow healthy and responsible. A study conducted in Venezuela highlighted the importance of imparting sex education to youth, as it helped to prevent adolescent pregnancy, abortion, HIV/AIDS and sexual abuse. A study in India revealed that majority of school teachers was in favour of imparting sex education to school children . Fourteen years of age was considered to be the most appropriate for imparting sex education by 28.6 percent of school teachers.
Mamta Foundation was setup in April 2001 by Dr. Suresh Agarwal in memory of his wife. Dr. Agarwal built Mamta School for the children of underprivileged families living in village Khanipur on Sitapur Road, Itaunja. With a population of over 22,000, Khanipur has long suffered from illiteracy, water shortage, lack of health facilities and awareness. Today, 200 children from the village are enrolled at Mamta school and benefit from basic education facilities provided at a very nominal fee, most of the poorest children and girls study for free or are sponsored by individual donors. The school has a library and a small computer center and children are encouraged to pursue their dreams and to learn new creative skills; they even have their own newspaper ‘Mamta Digest’ and a theatre club.
Pooja is a national level Volleyball player. Pooja has completed her B.Sc. and B.Ed. and M.Sc. from Lucknow University. Pooja loves playing sports other than volleyball and has also completed her NCC “C” certification and represented UP in All India Vayu Sainik camp at Bangalore & the Air Force Academy at Hyderabad. She loves working with children & her exuberant & outgoing nature makes her the favorite of the children. She is with the CSIR – National Botanical Research Institute at present
Abhinandan is a district-level footballer currently pursuing B.Sc from Lucknow University. An NCC ‘C’ certificate holder, he has attended several NCC camps such as All India Vayu Sainik camp at Bangalore and has participated in AIDS awareness campaigns organized by the Red Ribbon Club, Lucknow. A sports enthusiast, he loves playing every kind of game. He loves playing with children and his is easy going and fun attitude helps him bond easily with children. By working with Project KHEL he wishes to bring a change in the life of the kids and also wants to nurture his professional skills.