I’ve just come back from an evening of having met up with 10 YP Alumni, who worked with us anywhere between 3-5 years ago. We caught up over the little details, the happy memories, the recurring arguments, absorbed how we had grown, changed, made a difference in our own ways, each of us having found (or in the process of trying to find) our place in the world. For me, this moment is more than about affirmation. It is recognition of the work that these young people have built in The YP Foundation since its founding in 2002 and the transitions they have overseen. It is almost with a huge sense of pride that I watch many of them work in development spaces today – some are lawyers, others are studying and a few are transitioning from non-profit work to working with the government at a state level.
Earlier this evening, one of the groups struck up a conversation about how the YP has given us the space to make realizations that we often take for granted today about the lack of power, rights and privilege faced by young people and what we can each do, in order to change that. Many of them notice the changes it has made in their approach to their work, their sensibilities, their decisions, and experienced shock when they graduated and actually saw how excluded young people are from development and policy spaces in India. They realized how much needs to be done to ensure that all young people’s human rights can be recognized. We rested on the agreement that there are far too many gaps between young people who work at the field level, with communities and at larger international policy tables, or those who live in the glasshouse comfort of their homes.
I wrote :
“Because I can. Because I want to be a child again. Because I want to learn how to work with 125 children and understand their quirks, their spectrum of emotions and their thirst for knowledge. Because I want to help them.
Because I want them to help me. Because I am an artist a sportsman or just a person who wants to impart their skills to children. Because I want to have fun! And just play with them. To understand how individuals from different backgrounds are beautiful and interesting and driven, kind and selfless yet naughty and angry and fun. To understand them and let them understand us.
Why me? Because every you can make a million me’s and all of us together want to make a difference.”
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?
I don’t hesitate to go ahead and do that small thing in public. If I want to go ask a passenger who looks sick if he needs something, I will not think of what others may think, or if the person is so strange. I do not think of flimsy barriers of flimsier social ideas that bind us and make us feel helpless when we can do so much.
I don’t judge. No, have to know a person better, give them credit for their work, their ideas, and their courage. I shall never forget the girls at Kilkari. I often see girls who resemble them. I’d like to go back and meet them even after exiting. I can surely facilitate now. I can raise my voice when needed, I feel more powerful. The idea that I can change things, affect things has become a lot more real.”
Munmun Chowdhury (2011-2012), The Butterfly Project
“I was exposed to a different world altogether. I think, post that I feel things are a bit more doable. If I feel that something is not being done right, I am able to pick these things up and do them myself. I think this is possible because TYPF gave me that space, where what I said mattered.”
Rizu (2011-2012), Know Your Body, Know Your Rights
“TYPF has urged me to question normative notions and has been a process of self-development, something which still continues even after my leaving the organisation. I see this manifest in the way I approach new ideas and realize that the true potential of a society where freedom exists is when there is freedom to make informed choices.”
Aditi Annapurna (2011-2012), Know Your Body, Know Your Rights