30 Mar 2015

We are One and the Same

Pranay is a founder member of YRC Swapno
Youth Facilitator (2015)
Read his earlier post

I am Pronoy. I am a boy, I am a Hindu by birth, a Bengali, and my food habits include eating rice, vegetables, fish and chicken. At first glance I am known in my world through these identities. I always tried to interact with people with similar identities.

Since I was in class VIII, I have been bothered by two things. One of them is a sad memory. On my way to school from home, I had made friends with a girl from my neighbourhood. This attracted a lot of criticism from her family and neighbours, because our society does not look kindly on interactions between an adolescent boy and girl. Everyone assumes that it always equals a love relationship. We too were marked within that stereotypical frame, and our interactions were stopped. After some time I came to know that we might have been allowed to continue to interact, had I been of the same caste as that girl. That day my caste identity caused me a lot of suffering. In my thoughts I blamed my ancestry. I used to question myself, why wasn’t I born into a higher-caste family? Where was I at fault? Ever since, I have felt great discomfort in expressing my caste-identity.

29 Mar 2015

My World Just Got Bigger

Shampa is a member of YRC Ujaan
Youth Facilitator (2015)
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I am Shampa, I live in a small neighbourhood in Kolkata. I have grown up seeing various social problems, like men returning home drunk and beating up their wives, being verbal abusive, families feeding boys more and girls less, letting boys participate in various games and competitions and making girls do all the housework. I have faced these things in my own life as well.

To protest against these forms of violence, seven years ago a youth group came into being in our area with the help of Thoughtshop Foundation TF. Here, through discussions, young people learn about themselves and their different identities in society, engage with their neighbourhood, and increase their awareness about issues such as gender-based discrimination and the problems faced in adolescence. They also have a lot of fun doing these things.

I am a member of this group. In the last few years, the group has given me lots of opportunities to get to know and understand myself. It was through this group that I recently got the opportunity of visiting Bangkok for a workshop.

My Youth-Unite Journey - Tahsina

Tahsina is a member of YRC Roshni
Youth Facilitator (2015)
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I am Tehsina Bano. I belong to a Muslim family in India. In my community, girls go out only for their studies. Other than that, they are not permitted to go out of home for any other reason because they are girls. The boys here are not so well-educated. However, they start working from quite a young age, or get involved in small businesses of their own because they are boys and it is important for them to earn.

For about five years now, I have been associated with an organization called Thoughtshop Foundation (TF), which has taught me about my rights. I also have a group of my own where we talk to our adolescent friends about their rights. It was through TF that I got a onderful opportunity to go to Bangkok, Thailand. I was very happy to hear about this opportunity, but it was because of one of my identities that I started feeling that I won’t be able to go – my age did not match their criteria. When finally I heard that I would be able to go, I became very happy and started to prepare for the visit. It would be my first ever journey by aeroplane.

While a group of us were preparing our presentation for the Bangkok event, there was a lot of conflict going on at home. My brother was saying that I shouldn’t go to Thailand, because I was a girl, and if I did go, he would walk out of home.

Challenging My Assumptions

Azahar is the founder member of YRC "KYP'
Youth Facilitaor (2015)
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I am Azhar, a resident of village Kuldiya in Mograhat, South 24 Parganas. The village consists of Muslim families mostly, with a lot of visible discrimination between boys and girls. Girls should not go out alone, their wishes and opinions do not matter, and they have to lead their lives according to what their parents and brothers dictate. Besides, there are many additional obstacles posed by the Muslim  society we live in. Even in such conditions, we with the help of Thoughtshop Foundation, we have created a group here called ‘Kuldiya Yuva Procheshta’ (KYP), through which we carry out different kinds of awareness work in our area. Our messages reach people through workshops, through the posters and games and dramas.

Recently this work of ours created an opportunity to go to Bangkok. I had never even dreamt that I would visit outside my country. I was scared – would I be able to adjust with the different new cultures, languages, foods and young people of different countries that I would face there? But there was confidence in myself too, that I would be able to, however many obstacles I faced.

Identity, or injustice?

Uma is the founder member of YRC Nabadisha
Youth Trainer (2015)
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My name is Uma. My home is in the Gobindopur area of Kolkata, home to a number of people from divergent socio-economic conditions.

Bangkok is a dream city for many, but for me it is the city where I came out of my comfort zone and blended in with people of four other countries. It was on 20th January 2015 that six of us as part of the Youth Unite programme flew out to Bangkok to work on the issue of identities. There we met people of our own age group from four other countries – Bangladesh, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand. And so people from five different countries started a discussion about our identities, like being a girl, being Indian, and my caste identity, among other things.