On May 16, 2020, Cyclone Amphan shattered West Bengal. Homes and property were destroyed. Already precarious livelihoods were lost. Crop-bearing fields had been churned up. Millions of frightened and financially demolished people had to start life from scratch.For girls from low income families especially, it was a time of great danger. Parents and guardians struggling to survive felt they had no option but to ease their financial burdens by defying the child marriage laws and sending their girls elsewhere, leaving them vulnerable to abuse and trafficking.
It would take the government and NGOs nearly a year to bring some semblance of normality back to the region. But in the meanwhile, three Youth Resource Cells (YRCs), comprising mostly teenagers, worked out action plans that promised the villagers reconstructed homes and local infrastructure in exchange for keeping their girl children at home and in school. Then, using skills many of them didn’t even know they had but were determined to find, the young women and men of the communities physically rebuilt their villages.
For the people behind the Youth Resource Cells, Thoughtshop Foundation’s flagship programme, this spirit of awareness, understanding and hard work for the betterment of everyone in the community was the ultimate proof that the programme was doing exactly what it was supposed to do.