Monthly Archives: May 2018

The Rise Of Youth Activists II

Hope is hard to come by, and even harder to believe in, when one’s existence is surrounded with violence, chaos, inequality and injustice. And yet, what lends ‘hope’ a quality that makes it almost magical that you find it when you need it the most, and least expect it. Children are more powerful, more sensitive, and more responsible than we give them credit for. Their simple minds and ways of being are more capable of possessing hope than adults. Here are five outstanding youth activists from over the world who’ve brought about hope, and change for their communities and the world, by deciding to take a stand, and by following it up through determined action. 

Bana Alabed, Syria

She is one of the hundreds of children from Syria who have lost their childhoods to the continuing civil war. In 2016, eight-year-old Bana took to Twitter to broadcast what it was like to be a child in Aleppo amidst the siege and the violence. Her family could eventually escape to Turkey, and Bana transcribed her experiences in Syria into a book titled, “Dear World: A Syrian Girl’s Story of War and Plea for Peace, which was released in October 2017. Her narrative is important, because it is the voice of not just all the Syrian children, but also for all the children all over the world who continue to be affected by wars, and who have lost their lives to wars. At eight, she is perhaps one of the youngest peace activists.
Read more here.

Nujood Ali, Yemen

When she was just nine years old, Nujood’s father got her married to man aged thirty, who was willing to pay for her a bride price of somewhere around rupees fifty thousand. While the man had promised her father he wouldn’t touch her until she attained puberty, he raped Nujood on the night of the marriage. The violence and abuse continued, until Nujood, a year later – ten at that time, decided that she had had enough. She went to a courthouse all on her own and found a lawyer who was willing to listen to her, and fight her case. A few weeks later, she won the case, becoming probably the ‘youngest divorcee in the world’ and an international symbol for courage and hope. Today, she is a leading figure in Yemen’s fight against forced marriage and child marriage.
Read more here.

Om Prakash Gujjar, India

To pay off the debt his father owed to his landlord, Om Prakash and his family members were obliged to serve as bonded laborers under him. He was five years old at the time. It was only three years later, when the activists from the Bachpan Bachao Andolan – a campaign against child labour, visited his village that he realized, he too had rights, and above all the right to education. After a long struggle, the activists managed to free him from being a bonded laborer and Om Prakash was sent to school. Since then, he has helped free many children in his village from child labour and has had them enrolled in school. He was awarded the Child Peace Prize in 2006.
Read more here.

Alejandra, Guatemala

Our network empowers girls so that they can ignite change in their communities”. This seventeen year old girl, is an advocate for “Let Girls Lead – Rise Up”, a campaign to address girls’ education, sexual violence and street harassment in Guatemala. The campaign uses radio as a medium to empower young leaders and local organizations. With a network of 25 other girl leaders, she also organizes workshops in schools to discuss about violence prevention.Soon they hope to organize community theatre to create awareness regarding they issues they are working towards.
Read more here.

Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez, United States Of America

He gave his first speech against global warming when he was just six years old. In 2013, he served on President Obama’s Youth Council. He is also one of the 21 children to sue the federal government and Donald Trump for their lack of action regarding climate change. A firebrand climate change activist, Xiuhtezcatl is the youth director of Earth Guardians, and has given a speech on climate change at the United Nations General Assembly and the Rio +20 United Nations. “…our greed and ways of living are destroying our planet for the profit of this generation,” he says.
Read more here.

For Part 1 of Rise of Youth Activists, read here.

Community Library For Children In Assam’s Majuli

A group of young people from Assam’s Guwahati came together to create a community library for children between the age of 5 and 15 in the Majuli district of the state. These people who include artists, filmmakers and social entrepreneurs, took this initiative under a collective called the Maati Community Movement.

The Maati Community Movement’s idea was to construct a community library in an eco-friendly approach. Materials such as bamboo and cane were used to build this library and most of the books have been crowd sourced with the help of social media platforms.

Majuli—the disappearing Island

For many years, the northeastern part of India has remained elusive for people outside the region but now it is being explored by people from other parts of the country and across the world in the name of ‘tourism’. Majuli in Assam is one such area, which has over the years seen an increased fascination from visitors far and wide. Known to be the largest river island in the world, it is inhabited by at least nine ethnicities, home to rare species of plants, and many endangered fauna. Its culture has been dominated by the Neo-Vaishnavite Satras or monasteries, started by the saint-preacher-reformer-artist-composer Sankardeva (1499-1568) in the 15th century with the idea of spreading Vaishnavite faith. In 2016, it was declared as India’s first river island district by the BJP-led government in Assam.

The Brahmaputra which is known to be one of the most controlling rivers in the world, and is infamous for changing its course without notice has played a decisive role in Assam’s destiny. Majuli has been one of the worst victims of the erosion caused by the Brahmaputra—the total area of its land being reduced from 1,256 sq km to 515 sq km—makes it a disappearing island.

Community Library Initiative

Every year, during the floods, a child’s education is hampered; schools close down as crossing the saaporis (alluvial sand banks created by the river over the years) on boats that aren’t strong enough to combat the fast currents of the river become an issue. These saaporis are usually taken up by farmers who lose their lands due to erosion.

In the year 2016, when Rishi Raj Sarmah, a Guwahati-based social entrepreneur visited the island, he hadn’t even thought he would one day become instrumental in setting up a community library in one of the areas of Majuli. He along with artist Neelim Mahanta, and a few like-minded people came up with the idea of constructing this library in Chitadhar Chuk village, which is inhabited mostly by the Mishing tribe with about 120 households. Sarmah’s social enterprise Maati Centre in Guwahati is home to local arts and crafts from the Northeast region, which he had started along with his wife Pabitra Lama Sarmah in February 2017, the place has since then also become a meeting point for talented people from various fields of art and culture.

Sarmah says, “I had first visited the island two years back to meet local artisans, but in November 2017 at the annual Raas festival, we thought of doing something for the Mishing community, we planned for a library for the children in November, rolled out the campaign in February, and in March we launched. We came in contact with Haren Narah, a local man from the village who has a sprawling resort named ‘Me: Po Okum’ (Happy Home) which he runs along with Momi Payeng Narah, his wife. We decided to build this library in his spacious resort as it was at the centre of the village and was convenient for everyone.”

Besides, young filmmaker Akash Das made a short film on the campaign, artist Neelim Mahanta has done artwork on the walls of the library, a story telling session for the children undertaken by Yuveka Singh, founder of Darwesh, a storytelling organization “residing in the areas of culture, education and training”, and an open air film screening was also organized on March 25, the day when the library formally opened.

For the children, it was a chance to escape their regular day-to-day activities at school—from being able to lay their hands on new books that they had never seen before to listening to Yuveka tell them stories in a unique way—the library has been able to offer them a space to learn and have fun while also kindling their creative expression, and freedom to express themselves. Some children were even instrumental in raising awareness among the people of the village and their friends for setting up the library.

Sarmah says, “This was entirely a collective effort by the young people from Guwahati, and the people and children of the village.

#InternationalDayOfFamilies- Family Strengthening Posters From Across The World

Families all over the world have transformed immensely over the past decades – we’ve seen the emergence of joint families, nuclear families, single parents, same sex parents, unwed mothers and fathers, grandparents and siblings as caretakers, adopted families and foster families, impacting global trends and changing demographics. Still, a family continues to be recognised as a basic unit of a community.

The UN General Assembly in 1993 proclaimed the 15th of May to be marked as the International Day of Families. This move was to recognize the role of families as the “core” of any society, and the importance of healthy and happy families for better childhoods, and better societies. Ever since, this day has been celebrated with a different theme each year. This year, the theme is “Families and Inclusive Societies,” which relates to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development.

In the current day context, this theme is extremely relevant given the global atmosphere of intolerance, and the tearing apart of families due to wars, persecutions and conflicts world over. For example, the UK Refugee law does not recognize brothers, sisters, or grandparents as family, for those seeking asylum in the country. If there was ever a real need for societies to be more inclusive, it is right now.

On International Day of Families, we bring to you interesting family strengthening campaign posters from around the world.

Every Child Needs a Family

Beti Bachao

Girl or Boy, two is enough

Have the number of children you can feed, clothe and educate

We need you here

Family matters

A call to families to take centre stage

UP school van tragedy reflects how India’s children go to class – and parents must share the blame

The UP school van tragedy reflects how India’s children go to class – and parents must share the blame. #keepingchildrensafe#roadtragedies #roadsafety

Anandita Palsule & Chinmayee Bagade

Mohit Pandey

Abhilash Safai