Posted in SBI YFI Fellowship

How to Prepare for the SBI Youth For India Fellowship Interview

This post is intended to help all those who have been shortlisted for the SBI YFI personal interview.  All past fellows get so many calls each year, that it just totally felt necessary to sum up all of these.

1. How is the interview? (I don’t know what all do the aspirants mean when they ask this, but adding in all of that I have told till now)

It is a personal interview, with the candidate facing a panel of 4-5 members consisting of SBI YFI team member(s), NGO staff(s), member(s) of the advisory board. They mostly want to know what you have done till now and what you aspire to, in future. Be as honest as you can, because unlike other jobs, the monetary compensation is not too high to stake your life for, whereas as the entire program demands consistent commitment. No points for faking. No gain in being in the program, if this one year is a free vacation or a resume pointer. Try to read as many blogs of past fellows as possible, check out their Facebook walls, crowdfunding processes etc. Try to understand the partner NGOs, specially if you are keen about a particular field of work or geography. Understand each of us is different, and experiences vary.  Being true will also help you the experts (panel members) select you or not, and place you with the most suitable partner NGO during the fellowship

2. Does my past education or work experience count?
Yes, if it is relevant, and if your commitment in the past was amazing and if you still have the same fire within. Otherwise also, no problem. Again, the commitment to stay put, adaptability with the partner NGO, with the local people, health/home sickness all are important. You need to be serious about the program, and motivated enough to try to put in your best. Fellows range from freshmen to people with more than 5 years of work ex, across diverse backgrounds and from different places.

3. How do I select my project?
Be at the project site with an open mind, because you may find new ideas and opportunities. Also, interact with everyone well. You may either find something totally new, or be able to use past work or directly support a NGO;s project, or a mix of all these. You also have ample time to figure it out once you are there.

4. How rural can it get?
As much rural as you can think of. No, I was joking. It depends on your past experience with rural areas and your current expectations.

But, be prepared to learn at least the basic words in the local language, learn to be comfortable with a bit of heat, cold or rain, be cool with not having the urban level of hygiene in bathrooms or toilets and be prepared to live without luxuries.
Apart from that, clear pools, fresh veggies/milk/meat, getting to see our packed foods in the raw-est form, is definitely worth it.

5. How do I prepare?
Chuck your insecurities, ego, sense of superiority, lack of confidence, fear; anything and everything that prevents you from interacting openly with the SBI YFI team, your co-fellows, NGO staff or the community members. Go with an open mind, take all opportunities as they come your way and give your best in everything.

6. How does this compare with a regular job?
DIFFERENT – in terms of pay, holidays, workdays, everyday colleagues, personal learning, experiences, self-reliance etc.

SAME – in terms of insecurities, chaos, friends etc

7. What are the prospects of past fellows, post-fellowship?
Almost none of them are now scared to pursue their passions. In terms of pay, job security, work load etc, it is highly subjective, depending on personal needs and situations. No need to compare. You are worth what you work for.

8. Will you repeat the fellowship, given a chance?
Yes I will, and almost all of the fellows whom I know would do so; and this time better.


Posted in SBI YFI Fellowship

Easy Tips to Manage Periods in Rain

In these heavy rains when each and every resource is difficult to get, periods would be one of the most difficult issues to handle. Sanitary napkins are also very difficult to get and even more difficult to dispose in these conditions. Most people also do not have electricity, making it even more difficult to handle drying cloth napkins. These are few tips that everyone of you can share and spread to help manage this situation.

  1. If possible to get, menstrual cups of small size for girls and women who have not delivered a baby and bigger ones for women who have delivered babies would be ideal. A picture from Menstrupedia, on correct insertion is added. It would be definitely difficult to use it the first time, but it is the best solution in such times of crisis.

Illustration of menstrual cup, menstrual cup worn in the vagina, step 1: folding the menstrual cup, step 2: inserting the folded menstrual cup - Menstrupedia

After each use, just pour out the  blood, in toilets if possible, or on holes, dug underground.  Wash the cup with water and re-insert it. Soaking for up to 7 minutes in boiling water is the easiest way to clean it after 5 or 7 days of bleeding

2.  Cloth is the easiest alternative. Use only dry cotton cloth. Even old flannels can be used.

An easy method would be to take a long plastic sheet, any polythene bag would do. Make sure it is long enough to across the crotch. Try putting some thread around it, so that it would be tightly held against your body. Put dry cotton cloth between the plastic and your body and use this as a sanitary napkin.

Once wet, wash it with soap or a dilute dettol solution, whichever is available. Use newspapers to dry the cotton or flannel. Then put it over the vessel lids in which you are cooking, ideally this is not at all a problem. If you feel difficult to do it, just put it over empty vessels which are on stove (assuming that LPG/kerosene is not a limited resource). Will attach pictures as soon as possible for ease of use. Anyone needing support, kindly contact. Will try my  best to help.

Posted in SBI YFI Fellowship



As part of the government funded mandatory Capacity Building program for Government High School Science Teachers, conducted at the Vedaranyam S K Higher Secondary School for Boys, I had conducted a session on Inclusive Teaching Methods, with Demonstration on Teaching Reproductive System and Sex Education, on the 26th of August, 2015.

The session was attended by 33 female and 32 male science (Physics, Chemistry and Biology) teachers from 54 high schools in the Vedaranyam block. The coordinator for this program, Mr. S. Vaidyanathan, Head Master of Kadinalvayal School, where I have already conducted an awareness camp for the school children, said that it was based on the recommendation of his students and the teacher who attended my session and felt that it was really beneficial, that he was interested in calling me as a resource person for this event.

I was told that I should not be preachy, nor patronizing, but provide facts that would be really useful for the teachers in aiding their students.

I reached on the said time, and actually panicked at the sight of a big room full of teachers, way elder to me. The organisers welcomed me warmly. It put me at some ease. However, most of the teachers were looking quite perplexed; they did not expect a young female resource person to come and talk about reproduction and sex education.

The moment our reproductive system is in question, really few people can even pretend to be normal. I could see that few people were ready to meet my eyes; most women were just too shy. Even here, ice-breakers were necessary; they shattered my belief that adults might fake being normal. I started with few quotes and local incidents so that they would relate with me easily.

My talk had 3 topics:

(i) Education – Teaching and Learning Aspects, How teachers can inspire themselves and the students

(ii) Pedagogy Models across the world, How to incorporate these aspects within the limited resources for an effective learning, How this is being done for Reproductive System – methods used and impacts expected

(iii) Session on Female Reproductive System, Health and Hygiene

The first two topics were completed before the break. In the break, there was a very huge level of appreciation and acceptance for the session completed. Post break, the third topic was addressed. It was started with an entertaining video ( on the Reproductive and Health Education scenario in India. This video was not only funny, but also, it touched them all at a deeper level. There was a huge acceptance for this. It also helped me move into the topic smoothly. It also made them confident to speak up and also questioned why they were doing what they were doing.

Today we will sit and listen
Today we will sit and listen

Soon, I went into the details of the reproductive system, and how it could be told in relation to daily life facts and events. The whole session lasted for 3 hours, and towards the end it was truly an interactive session. I was very much appreciated by a really old teacher in front of everyone, and it meant  lot to me. She has also initiated a proposal tot take this forward in this district.

Once the session was over, the staff had come to me for discussion in small groups. It went for over an hour. Both the male and female staff was open to discussions. Female staff was more interactive during this period. One major outcome from this session, as I see it was the request put forth by the female staff: They asked if they could get the reusable, cloth napkins for the school students, instead of the currently freely provided disposable ones (every person who has used it says that it is of really poor quality). They even said that they could provide all their support for the same. I also feel that if we could initiate more work, even as a prototype in this direction, it will be really effective. I am looking for all kind of support for this to actually happen.

Displaying my hand made models used as Teaching Aids
Displaying my hand made models used as Teaching Aids

The overall feedback was really positive. I am really happy to have been able to contribute in this way, especially because addressing teachers has a very large reach. Also, I feel this will help to take ahead my project sustainably in future.