21 Feb 2017

Dress as You Wish!

Tina is a Youth Fellow 2016-17
YRC Drishtikon
I'm Tina Paul and I'm 19 years old. I live with my mother, who works as a cook, and my sister who is studying in class XII.

I give tuitions and meet all my expenses, as well as the expenses of my mother and sister.

My father does not stay with us, so my maternal uncle provides us some support. We also earn some money by letting out our rooms on rent.

Sometimes we have fights at home because of differences of opinion, but thankfully there is no pressure on me to get married. I want to complete my graduation and become financially strong.

I go to college, work at my YRC Drishtikon, and come to Thoughtshop Foundation for training. I am trained as a Gender Volunteer for my group, and I'm now a part of the Youth Fellowship programme.

For me the sessions on communication skills, feedback from others, and honest communication have been very useful.

Since I was a child I liked to play games that are usually played by boys. My mother used to discourage me saying it was not okay for girls to play boys' games. At that time I did not understand the social reasons for it. Now I strongly believe that one does not have to be a man to play certain games or do certain things. Now I demand my rights. If there is any problem, I protest.

I want to stay with my YRC and support it, help it to be very strong in all areas. My group believes in equality and there is an acceptance of all kinds of people.

In our community some people support our Gender Volunteer activities, and actions are taken against early child marriage; but if girls wear jeans or hot pants, they are severely judged! I dream of a day when everyone in my community can dress the way she or he wants to, without being judged by anyone.


Today I am Calmer!

Lakhan is a Youth Fellow 2016-17
YRC Youth Voice
I am Lakhan Singh, 17 years old and in class XI. In my family there are my parents, my sister, my elder brother and me. My mother works in other people's homes looking after small children, and my father works as a driver.

My elder brother studies in class XII and serves drinks during sports matches at the stadium. My sister is in class VII and we play a lot.

Our financial condition is poor, and I'm under some pressure to earn. We have to pay Rs 5000/- for rent, so my mother asks me pitch in. I try contribute Rs 400/- every month, which I earn by home-delivering tiffin. I go to school and love to play football. I want to learn handicrafts and recycling of old products. I also want to contact a trainer and develop my football skills; my dream is to become a football player. I want to be able to offer financial and medical help to my parents.

I have been a member of YRC Youth Voice since I was 15. I used to see early marriage and child labour in our village, and I joined this group to help others to put a stop to this.

We Challenge Stereotypes!

Mita is a Youth Fellow 2016-17
YRC Hashi Khushi Hoi Choi
I am 22 year old Mita. I live in Lakhikantopur, which is a village a few hours outside Kolkata. My mother is a housewife and my father runs a clothes business. I could not study after class twelve because of financial constraints. Everything else is fine at home and I like staying there.

I am involved in the Youth Fellowship at Thoughtshop Foundation, I facilitate an adolescent group at my YRC Hashi Khushi Hoi Choi. I take tuitions and teach dance. My hobby is dancing.

I had joined YRC in Nov 2015 when Piyali told me about the group. I joined to learn new things and to create an identity for myself. The most useful session was that on the challenges of child marriage.

Understanding my feelings, Sharing my thoughts

Shukla is a Youth Fellow 2016-17
YRC Protibha
My name is Shukla Sarkar and I am 14 years old.

I live in Kobardanga with my parents and two elder brothers. My mother makes and sells incense sticks, and my father works as a security guard in a company.

My younger brother is very sick. Sometime back our group members admitted him in a hospital where he had an operation. Another brother, who is very hot-tempered, had run away from home for a few days after fighting with our mother.

I am a member of YRC Protibha and have been since I was ten years old. I used to be very shy and had no friends. Indranidi told me about the group. She said that the group takes us for outing and I can learn lots of different things here. I also knew that I will make friends with many in the group. Now I have the opportunity to go to the city with Indranidi. Sujoyda helps me in my studies.

19 Feb 2017

I couldn't fight for my Rights without it!

Farheen is a Youth Fellow 2016-17
YRC Roshni
I am Farheen Naaz and I'm 21 years old.

My mother is a housewife, and my father, who is the only earner in the family, works as a labourer. The money is not enough, and my father is getting weaker. I have four sisters. My elder sister is divorced and stays with us, my parents worry about her. My grandmother is very old and has become bed-ridden after breaking her hip-bones.

These days I am a Youth Fellow at Thoughtshop Foundation. I also facilitate an adolescent group at my YRC Roshni and take tuitions. My hobbies are reading stories, and helping others. And sleeping!

My sister, Mehzabeen used to be a part of the group and she shared the activities with me at home. I got curious when I saw my sister protesting, debating and speaking up at home with confidence, with knowledge and wisdom that I did not have!

Like boys do

Sonali is a Youth Fellow 2016-17
YRC Nabadisha
My name is Sonali, and I'm 18 years old. My mother works as a maid in different houses, my father is a daily-wage construction labourer.

We are very friendly with each other and there is not much fighting at home. Sometimes when my mother returns from work late, my father wants an explanation. As we have financial problems my father often asks me to earn my own spending money.

I believe in gender equality, and that girls can go out with friends too like boys do. My group believes in sharing and maintain confidentiality. Ours is the only local group where girls and boys can come together with their parents’ permission. The Parents are also giving rights to their children now.

People don't talk enough about this

Archana is a Youth Fellow 2016-17
YRC Youth Voice
I am Archana, and I'm in 2nd year college. I live with my parents and younger brother. My mother is a housewife and my father is a gas delivery man. My brother and I are very different, so we don't get along well. He is very religious and superstitious.

I argue with my parents every day because they are also very superstitious. Sometimes I get beaten up at home because I have a boyfriend. My parents are not comfortable with this relationship, and want us to get married Now! They are worried I might elope, so they lock me up from outside at night. My elder sister had eloped, and now we have no connection with her.

18 Feb 2017

Times they are a changing!

Rafikul is a Youth Fellow 2016-17
I live with my grandparents, parents, brother, sister and uncle. My mother is a housewife, uncle is a carpenter, sister is studying in class XI. Financially we are going through a bad phase because my father doesn't have any work.

My family puts a lot of pressure on me to earn. They taunt me for not doing so yet. The financial crisis creates stress on the whole family, and there are times when people stop talking to each other. They even tell me to drop out of college and to stop coming to Thoughtshop Foundation.

But I still go to TF. I go to college, and am a member of our group KYP. I first got interested in the group when Azhar told us that they would give free computer training to 4 members. I used to bunk school twice a week to take that free training. Nowadays I teach kids how to use the computer. I've always really liked working with computers, and have recently found my passion in film editing.

Operation Rescue!

Sangita is Youth Facilitator (2017)
Read her earlier post
I want to share an adventure I recently had where I had to use my skills as a Social Investigator and Youth Facilitator in a very different context!

I had participated in a workshop on Human Trafficking at TF, conducted by an organisation that does Rescue Operations along with the Police. I learnt in a lot of detail about the familiar and yet horrifying ways in which women and children are regularly trafficked; attractive job offers, feigned love, false promise of marriage... eventually the girls and boys are trapped into sex work or child labour. They are not paid enough, not fed enough, and are abused physically and sexually if they protest.

Whenever the Rescue Team goes on an operation they need a few volunteers. I signed up as a Volunteer in September 2016. A day before the event I learnt that a minor girl would be rescued from a red-light area in North Kolkata. My job was to be a witness.

17 Feb 2017

I 👧🏽 love ❤️️ football ⚽🏃‍♀️!

Anuradha is a Youth Fellow 2016-17
YRC Ujaan
I am Anuradha Kayal and I am 16 years old. I stay with my parents and my elder brother.

My elder sister is married and lives with her in-laws. My mother works in homes as a maid, my father is a daily wage labourer, and my brother works in a shop. Our community is good, though there are a few people who are jealous of my mother and me. They spread rumours about us.

Our financial condition is not so good. We often see fights in our family... about food, or when my father gets drunk. Sometimes he fights to take back the money that he gave for the family.

I am a member of YRC Ujaan, and have been since I was 14. I joined the group because of Shampa-di and because I thought I could learn some new skills.