26 Mar 2013

My New Window

Shabana Khatun
Member of YRC Roshni

I am Shabana, I live in a slum area of Rajabazar. Now I am 28 years old. My father passed away when I was 5, our family went through very hard times.

When I recall my childhood, my heart feels heavy. My mother and sisters used to be away, working in other people’s homes. My whole childhood went by in doing housework and in play. I was like one of those paper planes that children fly, that has no direction. When I saw other kids eating something good or wearing nice clothes, I used to feel very bad.

One afternoon my friend Mussarat and I were sitting outside my home, chatting. I told her that I had never tasted ice-cream or chocolate. I had no idea that she would actually get these things for me! Within a day or two, she did, and I tasted the first Cadbury Chocolate of my life! I was 8 years old then. While eating, I started to cry.

25 Mar 2013

Little Birds Will Fly

Punam Sadhukhan
Youth Mentor, YRC Nabadisha (2011)

My name is Punam. I live in the Gobindopur locality of Kolkata. A few years back my cousin sister had formed a neighbourhood children's group called Nabadisha. I used to be a member of that group. I now work on child rights with this same group.

Where I live is basically a slum area. The kids here need a lot of things. When I started working with them, I started understanding which of these needs is the greatest.

When I was a kid, there were lots of things that I missed. No one would listen to me. No one ever asked me what I liked, what I wanted. In childhood, the person closest to you is your mother. But my mother could never be there for us. Our father had abandoned us. My mother wanted to give us an education and raise us as good human beings. So she would go out to work every morning and return at night. All day we would be without her.

22 Mar 2013

Youth Matters

Sangita Das
this is Sangita's third post
read her earlier post

I am Sangeeta, perhaps you know me. I work as a youth facilitator in Thoughtshop Foundation. I live in a place called Kadihati that you can reach after crossing Dum Dum Airport.

Sometime back, in February, I got the opportunity to participate in a Youth Consultation Meet in Puri [Orissa], to discuss the needs of young people. About 65 young people from West Bengal, Jharkhand and Orissa, came to present their opinions at the East India Chapter of this Consultation. I gathered that our recommendations would go straight to the UN, and they would be taken into account to frame new laws on Youth Needs in 2015. I was feeling very proud and excited, I had never thought my opinions would one day get so much importance!

The journey for the nine of us from Thoughtshop Foundation started at the Howrah station, aboard the Garib Rath Express. We reached the next day at dawn, and took an auto to Hotel Gajapati. On the way, looking at the sea, I was feeling that there was in me a life-force as tumultuous as the sea, which couldn't be contained!

21 Mar 2013

Finding Joy

Jagannath Samanta
this is Jagannath's second post
read his earlier post

Hi! I am Jagannath, 26 years old, and I live in a remote village further south of even South 24 Parganas. I work with a youth group and have been part of the We Can Campaign for the last 6 years.

Like others in my community, I too used to think stereotypically about women and men and the roles they play in society. After joining the 'We Can' campaign, I thought a lot about it, hammered them into different shapes, understood many things, and changed myself in many ways. As a change maker, I now think that women and men should get equal rights. Girls should be able to move about freely, women and men should value each other’s opinions, shouldn’t hurt the other in the process of saying something that is apparently funny, should fulfill their responsibilities towards themselves and their families – I believe in all these things. In struggling with these ways of thinking in the last 6 years, not only have I strengthened these values within myself, but have also tried to change the mentalities of family members and people in my community.

5 Mar 2013

It's No Secret

Krishna is a youth trainer
with thoughtshop foundation
this is her second post
read her earlier post

I have been conducting Adolescent Reproductive Health (ARH) training in different villages and towns since the last five years. It is a five-day training during which we talk about the physical and emotional changes that adolescent boys and girls undergo. There is a lot of hesitation in talking about these things, as society doesn't give us the space to talk about adolescence.

Usually, whenever we want to talk about the changes that happen to us as we grow up, we have to talk in hushed tones so that no one can hear us. I use a toolkit [the Champa Kit] that not only helps us talk about facts, but also approaches the subject through conversations and play, helping us to get rid of our hesitation and making it easier and more acceptable for us.