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38-Yr-Old IIS Officer Becomes First Woman To Trek Kerala’s Men-Only Peak

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38-year-old Dhanya Sanal from Kerala has scripted history by becoming the first woman to scale the Agasthyarkoodam peak in Kerala. The 1,868 metres (6,128 feet) tall peak in southern Kerala was considered as a sacred mountain and restricted for women to climb it. On November 30, 2018, Kerala High Court passed the order allowing women participation in the annual trekking programme to the Agasthyarkoodam peak. Amid protests from conservationist groups, Dhanya Sanal braved the rough terrains and reached the summit on January 17, after an extremely strenuous two-day hike, reported The Hans India.

Sanal, who is an officer with Indian Information Service (IIS) and works in the Defence Ministry, was accompanied by 99 male trekkers. Two women forest rangers guided the group as the Forest Department has ensured to provide all forms of assistance to the women trekkers of this expedition season.

History behind the mountain

The mountain, named after the mythological saint Agasthya, is considered holy by the Kani, an aboriginal tribal Hindu community. Twenty years ago, they even installed a statue of Agasthya atop the mountain to showcase its religious worth.

ചിട നീണ്ട വഴിയളന്നും പിളർന്നും കാട്ടു-ചെടിയുടെ തുടിക്കുന്ന കരളരിഞ്ഞുംചിലയുമമ്പും നീട്ടിയിരതിരഞ്ഞും ഭാണ്ഡ-മൊലിവാർന്ന ചുടുവിയർപ്പാൽ പൊതിഞ്ഞുംമലകയറുമീ നമ്മളൊരുവേള ഒരുകാത-മൊരുകാതമേ ഉള്ളു മുകളീലെത്താൻ..With Mridul Jacob,Ajay Krishna ,Manu Mangalassery,Swaroop Kottakkal,Muhammed Aslam,Arun S Aghori

Posted by Dhanya Sanal on Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Speaking to The Hans India, Principal Secretary of the Kerala Forests and Wildlife Department, Dr V. Venu informed that the tribal men obtain some rare, medicinal herbs from this mountain. Since the task of gathering these herbs is predominantly performed by men, it had become an unsaid custom to not allow any women beyond the base camp at Athirumala.

Protests against the HC verdict

For the last few years, many women have come forward to protest against the discriminating norm leading to the final judgement by Kerala HC. The much-talked-about verdict that struck down this age-old custom was met with a series of protests all over Kerala, much similar to the ongoing Sabarimala controversy. Agasthyarkoodam Kshetra Kanikkar Trust and Antharashtriya Hindu Parishad (AHP) organised protest marches to prevent the women from climbing the peak, even after it was approved by law.

Notwithstanding the controversies, around 100 women have already registered for the 2019 trekking expedition, alongside 4600 men. The highest number of women (16) in a single batch will perform the trek on upcoming February 14.

Also Read: A Recycling Crusader At Home, This IAS Officer Is Giving Hyderabad An Eco-Friendly Makeover

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2,00,000 meals served
Emergency funds sent to 350 families
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Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.
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2,00,000 meals served
Emergency funds sent to 350 families

Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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Quote
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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