I joined The YP Foundation two years ago, in my second year of college. A couple of my friends attended the induction and I was pretty much coerced into attending the next one. I was even given strict instructions to “Pick VOICES, The School Project as your first option. Don’t pick anything else and don’t mess up”.
I’m glad I listened. I’ve always loved psychology and whilst I was studying philosophy in college, VOICES kept me connected to various things psychological. We dealt with what we call the ‘whys’ of the issues we work with – ‘Why do people bully? Why do people take drugs? Why do people feel so insecure about the way they look?’
Blending Spectrum is a project of The YP Foundation that connects urban young people through a peer-to peer community interaction with street and slum children, with the aim of increasing sensitivity between street and slum children and the urban youth. Blending Spectrum provides healthcare and non-formal education (including Life Skills Based Education), building the potential of children with limited access to opportunities.
The Blending Spectrum Management Team, or the BSMT, is the core group of 5 young staff members who execute and develop the project’s goals on 2 locations in Delhi. The project was founded by 17-year-old Manka Bajaj in 2006 and has also been run by Rohanjit Chaudhry since. Aditi Kaul, a 3rd year student at Delhi University, currently heads the BSMT.
I joined TYPF as a volunteer and later took over as The Coordinator of The Right to Information Branch. Nervous at first about heading a team of 15 volunteers- I didn’t realize how time flew. It was only yesterday that I had 15 wide-eyed faces staring back at me, trying to get a sense of what the project needed them to do.
A million trainings, meetings, conference calls, feedback sessions and the like later, came the workshops and discussion forum we had been working towards. It was suddenly a whirlwind of work! We didn’t realize the extent of the impact we were making, but we just kept going on, pushing ourselves and the team to do better.
It wasn’t until the end of the project that the realization of what we had achieved this year dawned upon us. It was then that emails and messages from the volunteers started pouring in, stating how much they had learnt from the project, how they suddenly realized why each meeting had been mandatory, how it felt so good when someone at the workshops looked back and thanked them for telling them how to file an RTI, how they could finally connect the dots. It was that realization, at that moment right there, that made all the sleepless nights, chaos and hard work worth it.
Working in this organization has made me discover and understand myself, my strengths and weaknesses, my likes and dislikes, my beliefs and politics, and most importantly- who I really am. It’s taught me much more than I can point out. It’s made me challenge myself and what I thought I was capable of.
The Right to Information Branch
Plain cold water that allows you to jump and splash, that gets you so wet that you get goose bumps, get refreshed and don’t care about language or age, you have fun.
After much deliberation at Blending Spectrum, we decided to have a day of pure fun, and introduce paints to the children we work with. It’s a big achievement for us in the project. We NEVER take paints. But the simple logic of water+ paints+ fun+ colour = us won out. We also had interns Hannah and Jess work with us from the University of Birmingham observing how we taught life skills and crafting geography lesson plans for class. Taking a break with colours seemed like a super fun and slightly ridiculous idea.
We recently held our quarterly Organizational Development Committee (ODC) Phase Evaluation, and thought we would share some of the feedback, that got us thinking. These are the voices of young people who train with us as peer educators and work in the field.We’re grateful, and a little awestruck…
“The fact that every year, TYPF is able to draw such a large fraction of youth to work for causes they feel strongly about and for many, to char out their belief in a particular cause, is proof of the fact that the youth movement is consistently building and is attaching to itself a lot of value. The youth is developing meaningful insights and that’s a large part of the battle won.”
Aditi Malhotra (2011-2012), Silhouette
“I had the apprehension that so many young people would necessarily mean lots of chaos and waste of time. But I saw a lot of time being spent on honing our skills, building upon our strengths and helping us shed our inhibitions and barriers. TYPF did successfully create a space where we learnt to agree, disagree and respect the thoughts of our peers including the children we worked with. This did not at any point mean that we conformed to an idea and passively got moulded into that. There was space to debate, say that ‘No, YP is wrong in that, why can’t we do that or what’s so special in what we do?