23 Apr 2013

How My Mother Found Her Voice

Swapna Paik
member, Youth Voice Group (2011)
We Can Change Maker (2011)
Peer Counsellor (2012)


I am Swapna, a 20 year-old girl living in VIP Nagar [2013]. Let me start by saying something about my mother, things that people in my family don’t speak of, or even think about.

My mother’s name is Sumitra Paik. She lived in a small village in South 24 Parganas, and was very keen about studies. My grandfather had sent my elder aunt to school, but because she was not interested in studies, he decided against sending my mother to school at all. My aunt eventually got the opportunity to study for three more years despite her lack of interest, but my mother on the other hand was married off. She started managing her in-laws’ household in Joynagar when she was all of 10 years old!

Can anyone do so many things at such a young age? Planting grains, threshing paddy, cutting fish, cooking – Ma used to stumble at every step, and each time she had to hear abuses, and sometimes get beaten up too. My father also behaved very badly with her, and Ma used to be sad all the time. She would sometimes ask her parents, “Why did you get me married so early?” As a married woman, she was not allowed by her in-laws to attend any functions outside home, or to move around freely. Only her grandmother-in-law loved and supported her a lot and her father-in-law also looked upon her as his own daughter. Ma tolerated many things for many years, because of the love and support of these two.

17 Apr 2013

On Participation

Krishna Goldar
This is Krishna's third post
read her earlier post


This February [2013], nine of us from Thoughtshop Foundation had gone to Puri to participate in the MDG Youth Consultation. MDG refers to Millennium Development Goals. This consultation was to discuss young people’s opinions about the youth issues the government needed to work with over the next five years, and the policies that need to be set up for the benefit of young people the world over.

Young people from different states got together to discuss and discover what our needs really were, and what challenges we were facing in the process of meeting these needs. While creating Development Goals from 2015-2020, the government would take into account our recommendations and these would play a key role in actualizing young people’s needs worldwide. What a great opportunity to articulate our needs to an international audience!

What I liked most about this consultation was this opportunity to participate. Here we were representing not only the young people of West Bengal, but those of the whole world! We were trying to understand the diverse needs of young people from different places, and the challenges faced in trying to fulfill those needs. While listing these needs, I kept feeling – what a great responsibility! If we overlooked something, that need wouldn’t be met, and we would be responsible! We must keep the needs of everybody in mind. After a three day discussion, we were able to come up with 15 things that young people especially need. Most important among these were gender equality, health, education, equality, peace and justice.

16 Apr 2013

Hope Has Wings

Piyali Paul
This is Piyali's second post
read her earlier post


I live in a small neighbourhood adjacent to the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport, and I've grown up watching aeroplanes. When I was small, I would make paper planes and fly them, and when an aircraft flew overhead, I would dream 'when I grew up, my husband will take me on a plane to a faraway place…'

From childhood I was a bit different, not like other kids. My parents would usually not be at home. I was the one who had to look after my younger brother, and hence most of my time was spent with him. I used to play by myself with him by my side. Sometimes I would climb big trees. Sometimes when the snake charmers came to town, I would follow them through the neighbourhood all afternoon, my brother in my arms, until evening.

I used to think that I would need another person to fulfill my dreams. I never imagined that I would get an opportunity to do so myself! So when I first heard that I would need to FLY to Delhi for a workshop, a riot of feelings started in me! I wasn’t able to share these with anyone. And I will never forget the date – 19th November, 2012.

8 Apr 2013

What Youth Want

Tahsina Bano
This is Tahsina's second post
read her earlier post


My name is Tahsina and I am a Youth Facilitator at Thoughtshop Foundation. I have my own youth group, and I also monitor two other such groups. Through this I get many opportunities to understand young people and get to know about them. And it was for this work that I got the opportunity to attend a Youth Consultation at Puri.

This was a consultation about Youth Needs, and was attended by young people from four states. Our recommendations would go directly from here to the UN, and keeping these in mind, the UN would bring out new schemes for young people in the year 2015. This made me and my friends very happy. Never before had we got such an important opportunity. I am from a Muslim family, and that too, a girl! Ever since childhood, no one had given me much attention or asked for my opinion at home, which was crowded with seven kids. And now I was about to give my suggestions at an international forum!

4 Apr 2013

Things about my Mother that Nobody Knows

Sanatan Sardar
is a member of YRC Ujaan


I am Sanatan. My parents raised me with a lot of love. They worked very hard to secure my future. I often saw my father looking very worried. But they never let me feel it. I know that earlier Ma used to work very hard. She used to wash dishes, mop the floors and cook in other people’s houses. I have two sisters, both are married. Ma always seemed to be more reserved in their presence. It seemed that Ma loved them a little less. I didn’t know why.

One day suddenly I saw a garlanded picture of a lady in my elder sister’s house. When I asked whose picture it was, she said, “My mother’s.” I was shocked! “But she is alive!” I said. Didi said, “No, your mother is different from mine. This is your elder mother. Father married twice. When the first mother died from an illness, he married a second time so that we could be brought up properly.”