Around 25 years back, we started teaching a bunch of children in 3 settlements of Bhopal, some were enrolled in schools but being crudely discriminated by the society just because they are associated with scrap-picking and unrecognized works, they dropped out from this schooling system. When they grew up, they were facing a lot of challenges that they feel difficult to share and find solutions to. Some wanted to study and some were facing issues after early marriages and adolescent concerns. There was a need to look this through a formal program.
|YOUTH INNOVATION PROGRAM There was no platform for the youth of the vulnerable communities where they can speak out their thoughts. This program helped them to self-reflect on their strengths and weaknesses, to share their thoughts and perspectives, to learn new skills, gain insights about different issues, align with the youth of other communities, take their stand, to solve their individual and community problems, and to find more sustainable living. 350+ youth of various settlements of Bhopal are now connected with each other and evolving through a collective group–‘YUWAYON KI AWAAZ’|
INITIATIVES BY YOUTH-
In solving Prevailing Issues–
The youth have started doing interventions in the issues which were not easy to target for them against their own communities’ customs that already are strongly rooted in the community from generations. They have tried to stand against it and also been able to stop some child marriages and some have become more successful in delaying or breaking up their alliances to complete their studies.
Further, by practicing and learning theatre minutely, they can raise certain issues and voices through street shows and have started questioning society and community. It has also helped them to change the mindset of adults to some extent regarding the issues like violence, gender discrimination, early marriages, child protection, education, caste discrimination, addiction, and infrastructural problems. They are also coordinating with government functionaries to address and ensure the acknowledgment of their problems.
Youth in COVID Relief Work-
When the whole world was inside their homes, youth in the communities put their foot forward in COVID Relief Work in and around the territories of Bhopal. They have intensively participated in identifying the most vulnerable areas and settlements and then distributing the relief material. They had also completed the documentation work required for making ration cards, Birth Certificates, Aadhar cards, E-Shram cards so that the communities could also avail of some benefits of different government schemes. It also helped them to link community people with schemes like Jan Dhan Yojna and Ayushman Yojna. As the schools were closed for a longer period, children were deprived of regular education again, due to the non-availability of smartphones and the internet with everyone, youth helped the small children by teaching and conducting library sessions. They also informed the educated department about the problems children are facing by conducting surveys in different settlements, which resulted in waiving off the fees of some children and re-enrollment of some in schools.
Making the planet more sustainable-
They are working diligently on waste management of communities by separating dry and wet waste. They are also engaged in composting activity which is one of their sources of livelihood. They also take workshops in Government Schools regarding environmental protection and organize campaigns related to it.
ACHIEVEMENTS & IMPACTS-
Youth have capabilities to solve their and community problems on their own, they only need to get the opportunity and a platform to project their skills, that is what we and the community have observed.
Around 150 youths have completed their 10th& 12 Class and pursuing their graduation. They are also planning for further studies and exploring different career paths.
Behavioural Changes and self-development-
Some of the youth who were earlier suffering from childhood traumas and other mental health concerns are now giving support to the other sufferers. They have now better self-control on their anger as they now get different paths to explore and reflect on themselves. A strong thought process could be easily seen that works with logic rather which helped them vanish the superstitious thoughts and myths. Different activities have resulted in creating sensitivity towards other living beings as well.
The girls have started traveling alone for the workshops to other cities alone and with confidence., a few years back they were not even allowed to step out from their communities alone. The group is now able to solve problems and issues on its own without the help of any Muskaan representative.
They are also working on making their identities stronger by demonstrating the work done by their forefathers and the history of their community.
Creating a better world for all-
Yuwaon Ki Awaz is not a basti-specific group but it is the amalgamation of the youths of different communities. Somepreconceived notions regarding different communities were stuck in their minds, which again leads to caste discrimination. It helped them harmonize with other communities as they can now understand each other’s culture and traditions.
A Way Forward-
This integration has created hope and positivity among the youth and has somehow helped to give their life a direction. They now understand that their issues are commonand they can be solved better together. Hence, they are now focusing on-
- Integrating youth of different communities and tribes of the whole Madhya Pradesh state.
- Learning some new skills along with the studies to create better livelihood opportunities.
- Developing youth leadership among the communities.
- Collaborating youth groups, Azad Jugnu Club, and Community federations to raise their voice collectively.