One idea can change your fate and it needs guts to implement that idea and face all the challenges that you will meet in the journey. The same with Arunachalam Muruganantham too who developed a machine that produces hygiene sanitary pads.
And you know, he tested it on himself.
I should say, he is a true scientist.
He faced several criticisms during his journey. Well, this is how it started.
"It all started with my wife," he says.
He was newly married in 1998 and his world revolved around his wife, Shanthi, and his widowed mother. One day he saw Shanthi was hiding something from him. He was shocked to discover that her wife using rags (nasty cloths) during menstruation.
"I will be honest," says Muruganantham. "I would not even use it to clean my scooter."
When he asked her why she didn't use sanitary pads, she said that it would be difficult to run the household if she affords that money to buy sanitary pads.
To impress his young wife, he went into town to buy her a sanitary pad. But he wondered to know about the high price which is 40 times than usual. So, he decided to make them by himself.
He fashioned a sanitary pad out of cotton and gave it to Shanthi and asked for immediate feedback. She said he'd have to wait for some time – only then he realized that periods were monthly. "I can't wait a month for each feedback, it'll take two decades!" He looked for more volunteers.
He asked medical students at a university close to his village. Some of them actually tested his pads but they were too shy to give him detailed feedback.
Finally he decided to test the sanitary pads himself. He built a uterus using a rubber bladder, filled it with animal blood and fixed it to his hip. A tube led from the artificial uterus to the sanitary pad in his underpants. By pressing the bladder he simulated the menstrual flow.
He found that a foul smell is coming from clothes also his clothes were often stained with blood. When his neighbours noticed this, they thought Muruga was either ill or perverted. After a while his wife couldn’t stand the constant gossip and left him.
But Muruga didn’t give up. After knowing that only ten to twenty percent of all girls and women in India have access to proper menstrual hygiene products in his research, Muruga was on mission to produce low-cost sanitary pads for all the girls and women in his country.
He found the right material after so much of struggle for 2 years and it took another four years to develop a machine.
And his hard work and effort paid off. He developed an easy-to-use machine that can produce low-cost sanitary pads. The machine he developed comes at US$950 where the imported machines cost over US$500,000.
Now women’s groups or schools can buy his machine, produce their own sanitary pads and sell the surplus.
In 18 months he built 250 machines and took out to the poorest and most underdeveloped states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.
Muruga’s machine has created jobs for women in rural India. So far, he sold around 1,300 machines to 27 states, and has recently begun exporting them to developing countries all over the world.
TIME magazine named him one of the 100 most influential peoples in the world in 2014. Meet Arunachalam Muruganantham, an award-winning social entrepreneur from Coimbatore who is known as India's ‘Menstruation Man’.
Kudos to you sir! You are a true hero who stood for the welfare of women and changed the lives of millions of women.
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