Advocacy Against Child Marriage

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At Swarachna School, Milaan, Sitapur, Lucknow children from neighboring 14 villages 300 girls and boys come milling in every morning excited to be at the school, learn new things, and play. Most of the children are from SC and OBC communities, with a significant number of them being Muslims. Almost all the students come from low income households, with most of their family members engaged in agriculture.

 

Last year the My Life Mere Faisle program was run in the school with 106 students of 12-15 years of age.The year long curriculum and journey led to the emergence of a of 12 young leaders who formed a group and implemented an Action Project to advocate against Child Marriage.

 

The group got together and designed and implemented the project over three days in the month of May, with support from their peers in the program. They neatly divided themselves into three sub groups and used three mediums to engage people in their school and community with the issue. As a part of the action project, a skit based on child marriage was enacted by 5 students. Posters on gender sensitivity were created by one group, while the third group conducted a discussion on early child marriage on the sidelines of the school’s assembly. Together they reached out to approximately 350 people.

 

Akshay, the lead facilitator shares:
“We were delighted with the initiative and ownership taken by the students in conducting the action projects. In a very short time, students were able to stage a wonderful play, create posters and conduct a lively discussion almost entirely on their own. It only goes on further reiterate the success of MLMF in firmly instilling the idea behind the intervention in their minds. It has also made the students more confident of accomplishing similar such projects in the future with the larger community.”
Milaan is currently running the second year of the program at Swarachna school. To read more about the program please click here: https://pravahdelhi.wordpress.com/2016/12/02/my-life-mere-faisle/

#MLMF  #5thSpace #5thSpaceChats

FB: @Pravahdelhi

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My Journey from Self to Society

This is the story of Ilhan and Vivek – two Youth Facilitators in the My Life Mere Faisle Program in 2015-16. Under this program they went through an internship which gave them an exposure to the issue of Early and Child Marriage.
After the internship they did an action project focused on the issue of Early and Child marriage in the community of Neemanch Kheda in urban Udaipur. They were placed at Jatan Sansthan for their rural internship. With training from Jatan on developing different activities to design and run the project with the community,they conducted various interactive activities in the community. Through these they focused on the importance of education especially for young people.

 

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Vivek (Left) and Ilhan (Right)

Sharing about this experience llhan says ‘‘We found it challenging initially to develop meaningful relationships with children and youth participants at Apna Jatan Kendra. But the sessions on communication and empathy helped us break that barrier. Our interaction with other youth coming from various communities from different part son India in the orientation camp had also given us insights on how to make new relationships based on trust. We developed an understanding on the issues of Early and Child marriage and its ramifications in different communities. It was an intensive experience for us for our own self development and in terms of deep community engagement’’.

 

Through their efforts the facilitators were able to reach out to the community in Udaipur and with collective efforts of the community and Jatan members, 3 child marriages were stopped!

 

From a recent survey (conducted by Commutiny the Youth Collective) with more than 26, 000 people across different states in India to understand what people believe are effective ways of solving critical social issues in India such as gender, sanitation, employment, education and communalism, ‘psychosocial change’ emerged as the highest rated solution (29%), followed by Legal change (25%), Systemic Change (24%), and Infrastructural change (23%).

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Pravah’s work and its approach of creating 5th spaces has been integral to this program (read here: goo.gl/XHz9DZ). For Ilhan and Vivek and many other youth in this journey, it has been a journey of exploring themselves and their own identities, questioning deeprooted beliefs and social structures/norms and transforming into active citizens.

 

Ilhan has continued his journey after that and today he is a fellow working on the issue of Gender and Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRHR) in the PrayasApna project.

 

Spaces to read more ‘Voices of Young People’ on twitter #MLMF #5thSpace and on Facebook @pravahdelhi

Also Check out our twitter discussions #5thSpaceChats !

Stop Gender Discrimination

”As per the census data 2011, Sex Ratio in Madhya Pradesh is 931 i.e. for each 1000 male, This is below the national average of 943”.
Low sex  ratio  is  one  of  the  manifestations  of  Gender  Inequality  and  in  Harda   district. Girls  of  the  tribal  community  are  often  sold  as  child  brides  to  communities  of  higher  castes   where  there  is  a  lack  of  girls.

 

Gender discrimination therefore is a very crucial issue for the youth in the local community, especially the girls. The youth (girls and boys) in the Rahetgaon community in Harda distict of Madhya Pradesh too faced such discrimination themselves or have seen it manifest up-close.

 

Under the aegis of My Life, Mere Faisle program run in Harda by Synergy Sansthaan, the Youth Group (both boys and girls together) organized a campaign to create awareness on the issue of Gender Inequality and stop gender discrimination.

 

Through the medium of street play they tried to show discrimination between girls and boys, the mentality behind it and its ill consequences on the lives of young girls and boys. Through the play they also stressed on the Right to Equality which our constitution protects and spread the message to encourage Girl’s education. The campaign raised pertinent questions on stereotypes around gender roles and addressing gender discrimination. It reached a total of 500 people from Rahet Gaon community area.

 

The youth followed this up with a meeting with teachers in a school, where they had done the street play, about such practices and inspired the teachers to continue discussing on these issues with youth. They also connected teachers and members of the panchayat, with a view to involve them as important stakeholders and make the change sustainable.

 

Their effort was appreciated by the community members. The positive response from young people in the community, parents and teachers has given them the confidence to continue the discussions and with repeated efforts-encouraging dialogues within the families, involving community members, they are working towards eradicating gender based discrimination within their community.

 

From their experience they share their learnings:
“It is important for the youth members to go in the community and work to connect with them and to understand ground issues. Through community exposure, we have been able to gain more confidence and improve our skills to connect deeply with ground issues.”

#MLMF  #5thSpace

 

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Youth organizing the Street Play

Sakhi Chaupaal-An Effort to Involve communities in preventing Early Marriage

Early and Child Marriage is a deep rooted tradition in the societies around the world. Besides other reasons, it is the social pressures within a community which leads families to marry their children young. For example, some cultures believe marrying girls before they reach puberty will bring blessings on families. Some societies believe that early marriage will protect young girls from sexual attacks and violence and see it as a way to insure that their daughter will not become pregnant outside of wedlock and bring dishonor to the family. Poor families marry off young daughters to reduce the number of children they need to feed, clothe and educate.

 

Statistics published in a leading daily reveals that traditional beliefs and pressure from the relatives and community together accounts to main reasons in approximately 40% of the cases of Early and Child Marriage. Therefore, it is important to involve the community in any move to prevent early and child marriage.

 

In this backdrop, Zainab and Rukaiyya, (Youth Facilitators in the program My Life Mere Faisle program run by YES Foundation, in partnership with Pravah in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh) took up the initiative to forma  Sakhi Chaupal.

 

Advocating for prevention of child marriage in their community they mobilized a group and  named it Sakhi Chaupaal in their village. This group mainly comprises mainly of mothers who would act as to stop child marriage in their community. In the first mobilization bid, 50 mothers were contacted but only few women gave their consent to joining the program.

 

A major challenge faced was the reluctance of the women to listen to the problem. Some mothers were defiant and considered this as the prerogative of the family. These Youth Facilitators then with support from YES Foundation (Yeh Ek Soch, Partner, My Life Mere Faisle) conducted workshops to give the detailed nuances of issue of child marriage.

 

The age group of the facilitators also posed a threat to the seriousness towards this issue. However when the facilitators demonstrated their skill, this doubt was done away with.

 

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Regular meetings and discussions helped the members see value in the issue Zainab and Rukaiyya were advocating. Gradually, the discussions started moving beyond these meetings and within the family. More and more mothers started joining along with their girls in the community and together decided to stop child marriage within their community. Efforts are on within the community and Zainab and Rukaiyya are determined to prevent Child Marriage in their community.

 

Zainab Says:
“In the course of the work of Sakhi Chaupal, a girl named Khushboo, who was a regular participant of MLMF, told us that her parents were going to get her married at the age of 17. Members of the group took on the simple approach of reasoning with the girl’s parents and explaining how marriage at this age will be counter-productive. They advocated against the issue strongly placing the realities in front of the parents and those close to the family. Finally after a month of convincing, the parents agreed to hold off the marriage.”

 

“The turnout at the Sakhi Chaupaal meetings was a high point. When people addressed me as “neta ji” it was proof of the fact that they are willing to be guided on this issue”.

 

Youth like Zainab are eager to work to address such issues in their communities. Given a space to express their aspirations, their desires and their fears in a without being inhibited by fear of judgement, they flower into leaders capable of affecting the change they dream of!

 

We aim to create more such spaces for more young people in our country.

#MLMF #5thSpace.

Early and Child Marriage is a deep rooted tradition in the societies around the world. Besides other reasons, it is the social pressures within a community which leads families to marry their children young. For example, some cultures believe marrying girls before they reach puberty will bring blessings on families. Some societies believe that early marriage will protect young girls from sexual attacks and violence and see it as a way to insure that their daughter will not become pregnant out of wedlock and bring dishonour to the family. Poor families marry off young daughters to reduce the number of children they need to feed, clothe and educate. Statistics published in a leading daily reveals that traditional beliefs and pressure from the relatives and community together accounts to main reasons in approximately 40% of the cases of Early and Child Marriage. Therefore, it is important to involve the community in any move to prevent early and child marriage. This was realized early on by Zainab and Rukaiyya, Youth Facilitators in the program My Life Mere Faisle program run by YES Foundation, in partnership with Pravah in Lucknow, uttar Pradesh. Advocating for prevention of child marriage in their community they mobilized a group named Sakhi Chaupaal in their village. This group mainly comprises mainly of mothers who would act as to stop child marriage in their community. In the first mobilization bid, 50 mothers were contacted but only few women gave their consent to joining the program. A major challenge faced was the reluctance of the women to listen to the problem. Some mothers were defiant and considered this as the prerogative of the family. These Youth Facilitators then with support from YES Foundation conducted workshops to give the detailed nuances of issue of child marriage. Regular meetings and discussions helped the members see value in the issue Zainab and Rukaiyya were advocating. Gradually, the discussions started moving beyond these meetings and within the family. More and more mothers started joining along with their girls in the community and together decided to stop child marriage within their community. Efforts are on within the community and Zainab and Rukaiyya are determined to prevent Child Marriage in their community.

Sakhi Chaupaal

My Life, Mere Faisle

  In India, as in many parts of the world, gender inequality and poverty close off countless life options not only for girls but also young boys from marginalized communities.
According to the 2011 census ‘‘2.3% of all women or girls who were ever married or were married in 2011 were married while they were not yet 10 years of age”. India has the sixth highest prevalence of child marriages in the world, with one in every three, child bride living in India.

 

Such facts clearly demonstrate that in order to ensure prevention of child marriage and its ill-consequences on a sustained basis can be only through mindset change, by challenging the gender norms. It would require engagement of both girls and boys with spaces that allow interaction, leadership and decision-making skills. Legal reforms alone are not enough to bring a change in the scenario so deeply rooted in the socio economic cultural background of the community and society.

 

The program program My Life, Mere Faisle aims to create a space where adolescents and young people can come together to learn about themselves, their aspirations, and learn from each other in a diverse group setting. It aims to be an empowering space where young people co-create the space to understand themselves better, understand issues and take action in society, and nourish relationships to become socially conscious leaders in their own capacity and handle conflicts in an empathetic manner. This intervention is run across 6 locations in 5 states of India with 6 partner organization facilitating cross border dialogues and engagement of young people on the issue of early and child marriage.

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Spaces to engage with the program on twitter #MLMF #5thSpace and on Facebook @pravahdelhi
Also Check out our twitter discussions #5thSpaceChats !

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Maniung Niangti and Faith Foundation: Healing Women through Healthy Relationships

Faith Foundation is led by a team of five full-time youth leaders, including the four co-founders and one volunteer. Maniung Niangti, 27 years, has done a Bachelors in Hospital Management and a Masters in Social Work from the Bosco Institute in Jorhat.  After graduating she worked as a counselor with an NGO providing substance abuse rehabilitation services and later at Nazareth Hospital in Shillong, counselling patients on HIV/AIDS.

 

Maniung and her three friends, Darhmingliani Hlonceu, Barida Laloo and including co-anchor Shannon Dona Massar, started Faith Foundation in January 2013.  Faith Foundation addresses issues of human trafficking, child abuse, HIV/AIDS, and substance abuse. The Foundation has also started a counselling centre for female alcoholics/addicts and children of alcoholic/addicts (co-dependent) using the 12-Step program.

 

Though Maniung entered into this journey at a later stage than the other Changeloomers, she has had refreshing opportunities to meet with many Changelooms peers in recent months. Through conversations and peer visits she has learned that many of them “are facing the same challenges and it’s been very motivating to share with them and learn”. In having met with and learned from current Changeloomers Mimi, Donbok, and Shyam, and Changelooms alumni Hejong, Maniung finds much encouragement to strive and to move forward.

 

In early April, Maniung traveled to Delhi from her home and work in the Northeast region, to attend Pravah’s Ocean in a Drop (OID), which is a learning voyage that seeks to build capacities of facilitators, educators, HR/training professionals and individuals working with youth. “It was a very overwhelming experience”, she shares, remembering it fondly. “Even though our organization is always conducting and designing programs, and feel pretty confident in doing so, we were completely unaware about certain ground rules”. Through the OID, Maniung was challenged about her work, and about how her team can organize things and conduct their workshops – “such important things”. On her return to Meghalaya, she has already begun implementing these changes. “Most of what I’m doing is counseling,” Maniung shares. “I’m able to implement this [learning] with the clients – especially in designing a workshop and in getting the attention of the participants”.

 

This has been a major theme in the Faith Foundation journey – identifying those in need and engaging them in relevant programs. In 2013, Faith Foundation, identified a few girls from different communities and have been conducting different programs with them.  Since March 2014, they have been running a weekly Life Skills program for the girls, along with different activities and games. Currently the girls are undergoing a music workshop conducted by the students of the Arts and Music Department of the Martin Luther University in Shillong.

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Maniung recalls a few stories of the girls…

Foremost, she shares about a youth who initially came to Faith Foundation a year ago, dealing with substance abuse. “She came in with a lot of emotional baggage”. Now with the assistance of Faith Foundation, the 12-Step program and the Alcoholics Anonymous fellowship she is sober and doing well in her daily personal, family and work life.

Another successful journey of the Faith Foundation is of two sisters from the slums area who were at risk of being trafficked. The organization was able to assist and help the two sisters and rehabilitate them in a safe and family-like children’s home.

Even with girls who attend the weekly life skills program there has been a great change and growth in them compared to last year when they first came to the organization for a quilt-making workshop. Last year the girls were very shy and would not share much, but now these girls are coming forward and sharing their problems and difficulties. They are more confident, their personal hygiene has improved, and they have been able to raise their voice when needed in order to defend themselves.

 

Stories like these, and the wonderful team at Faith Foundation, drive Maniung to continue investing in her own learning and the capacity of the Faith Foundation. Maniung notes that the Changelooms program has been, “a great journey for what [they’ve] learned and for the exposures…”.

 

Maniung is hopeful, committed, and excels in her work – while also taking her challenges in stride. “It’s okay to make mistakes and it’s okay to not know everything, and I don’t have to please everyone all the time and sacrifice my needs and my dreams”. Maniung’s future plan is to start a complete in-house rehabilitation centre for female alcoholics and addicts.

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Changelooms’ Peer Visit: “Trust Me it Will Create Wonders”

Change Looms Learning and Leadership Journey (Changelooms) supports young people who have started and are running their own independent social initiatives. It provides skill and capacity building, mentoring support, financial support and networking opportunities. The 2013-2014 Changelooms journey has included cross-border peer visits for all participants. Cross-border engagement aims to address three   issues that affect Indian youth: communalism, personal awareness, and social development. In India especially, communalism can be defined as “allegiance to one’s own ethnic group rather than to the wider society.” Thus, as the Changelooms participants engage in cross border peer visits, they intentionally engage with youth from different communities, experiences and identities, for both learning and action. Here is an excerpt of Amreen Ahmed’s (of Pravah Jaipur Inititiatve) reflection on her visit to see Sandeep Mehto, of the organization Bharat Calling, in Itarsi.

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“If you really want to make the best of your time, invest in building authentic relationships…trust me it will create wonders.”

The journey started with long waits and disappointment created by the railway department. Not a single train was on time that day – 2nd March. I was feeling exhausted and thinking what a bad start to my peer visit, but everything changed as soon as I reach Itarsi.

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During this visit, I came across and met a new Sandeep, a person who appreciates and acknowledges the support given by his family while he was deciding to start something of his own – Bharat Calling. The uniqueness, which overwhelmed me, was the value system of the family that says 1) there is a joy in sharing and eating together, 2) problems are part of life and 3) acknowledgement strengthens relationships.

My most overwhelming moment was in hearing that Sandeep’s challenges as a young person and how he managed by himself. When I asked his bhaiya about the pressures of getting a job and work, he responded, “If we had just listened to the people around us, we would have been different people; Sandeep might not have started Bharat Calling”. The best part of these conversations was seeing the complete acceptance about what Sandeep is doing.

But apart from being an entrepreneur, he is also a son, a brother and a friend. He actively takes part in important decisions of his family. And being a decision maker at Bharat Calling, he understands the importance of an effective decision. He loves to hang out with his cousins, in what they call “the experiment space“, which is a space where they generally sit together to crack jokes, and to discuss work, family & career.

One cousin of Sandeep is right now doing a distance-learning course form TISS and also working in Bharat Calling. He shared that he enjoys working with Sandeep, and he is enjoying learning from the mistakes he himself makes. “We are able to work together effectively because we carry a strong relationship which allows us to discuss all the challenges and struggles while working with each other.”

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The best part was, after I returned to Jaipur, I got a message from Sandeep saying that the conversation I had with his team did wonders, and they are more energized and ready to work with full ownership. While Sandeep was sharing all these things, I realized maybe this is the real objective of a peer visit. Isn’t it amazing how two unknown people, who don’t even know each other one 9 months back, are now trying to support each other, listening to each other and suggesting creative ideas to deal with real life challenges?

 

Loads of love,
Amreen

Mera Safar

Everything (one) shall pass. Live (with) it, when it is there, and let it go, to embrace more. Life and Art: They Inspire one another. In fact, when these forms collide, it is often the highest praise of a moment well-lived or an item well-made. This is what happened for Astha, a Pravah intern turned youth facilitator. Perhaps the words of Leonard Cohen are fitting: “Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.” Please read and enjoy Astha’s reflection on her adventures through Pravah and her heartwarming poem inspired by her own SMILE in-turn-ship journey.

Mera Safar.

Ek anjaani raah chooh gaye kadam;

Hoke bekhabar. Thoda darr, thodi fikar.

Karne ek mulaquaat mukhtasar, jaane kisse?

Kuch ajnabee si dagar.

Sawalon se hoke sarabor,

Kabhi idhar kabhi udhar,

Ikraar karti rahi raah-guzar,

Mil jayenge humsafar.

Har mod mazil kareeb aati nazar,

Aati si kyun jati who badal?

Har jawaab mei milta naya sawaal,

Talaab ki machli ka kya hoga sagar mei haal?

Raahein mukammal hoti lagi,

Chhor per manzil muskurati si mili,

Per rukte hi ho gayi daga,

Saamne jo paya aaina,

Usme thi main, kuch wohi, kuch nayi,

Aur they woh tamaam raaste,

Jinhe rooh mei,

Maine liya hai sama..!

 

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(I embarked on an unknown terrain, clueless, with fear and worry leveraging my heart, in anticipation of some serendipitous encounter. I didn’t know with whom. Little was the familiarity with the journey. Brimming with questions, I traversed like a boisterous brook from this way to that. The roads assured me of companions. At every turn I felt I could finally kiss the destination. Alas! Each time it would manage to elude me. Illusions? Every answer greeted me with a new question. How would the fish of a pond fare in an ocean?

At last, the journey seemed to culminate. At last, I believed that I was witnessing the destination smiling at me. As I stopped to embrace it, I was duped, once again, for it was the mirror I found myself looking into! It was Me, partly changed, partly the same. And there were the boulevards, which had become as integral to my existence and self as the soul.)

My journey with Pravah has been one ‘through the looking-glass’. I derive immense pleasure from visiting the past 11 months since I first registered for the SMILE in-turn-ship. The relationship that I have built with the Pravah family, fellow travellers, and most importantly, myself, has given me a new perspective to look at life, and shape it in the process. From SMILE to Youth Addas, from Music For Harmony, Group Exposure, and other hangouts, to writing this blog, I have continuously and consciously sought and experienced rejuvenation. The most important of the myriad of realisations en route is the following: I no longer hold on to people (their physical presence) and memories. Space and Time are as much the functions of mind and experience. Everything (one) shall pass. Live (with) it, when it is there, and let it go, to embrace more. It has become less and less about adding people and experiences to my life, and more and more about living (with) them. So much so that goodbyes cease to reek of an end. It is in transience, and not permanence, that I find peace.

I dedicate this poem to my journey and everybody at/through/outside Pravah who gave me the scent(s) I wear today.

Lots of Love
Astha 🙂

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Into My Pensive: DeTour Music For Harmony

“And like flowers in the fields, that make wonderful views, when we stand side-by-side in our wonderful hues..

We all make a beauty so wonderfully true.

We are special and different, and just the same, too!”~ Michael Tyler

What an incredible adventure retrospection is! One doesn’t simply go down the memory lane, but brings the lane to one’s present and witness it not-so-surreptitiously alter it! I assure you, by the time I had finished writing this blog, my present and past had been reshaped, already.

On 25th January 2014 Pravah celebrated love, peace, and harmony in the form of a day long (youth-led) musical adventure- Music For Harmony (M4H). Dilli Haat proved to be a vivacious venue bringing people from different walks of life to join us in the journey. It was fun-frolic, magic-music, dance-drama, exuberance-excitement (sans ability-to express), bakbak-batchit, and amazement-applause. This is how it must have looked from the outside. Notwithstanding all of this, M4H is too awesome to be restricted to that. What else? From the conception of the idea, willing participation from all of us, laying out a (ever-changing) plan, division (and re-division) of roles and responsibilities, numerous meetings, phone-calls, emails, pakoras-jalebis-burgers-tikkis, budgeting, venue-booking, NOC, decoration, posters, invites, mementos, photos, performances, sound-lighting, logisitics, compeering, mobilisation and so on to all the off-stage effort on the day of the event. M4H isn’t (just) about that either.

M4H was not an event but a process that we lived through. It was a story that each one of us will tell differently, but inconceivable without each other. This one is my story.

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Meanwhile, while you are reading it, you have become an indispensable part of this journey. Welcome! Let’s take a dive into the pensive.

“So why are we doing it- young people coming together putting up a tableaux of music and dance?” I asked, myself. “To celebrate the spirit of peace and harmony through music”, I contemplated. “Yes, but what will it entail? Will the message be conveyed? How will it be ensured that it doesn’t just become another programmethat people enjoy only to go back to life-as-usual?” I was puzzled as I pondered over the challenge. Then it dawned upon me. “Hey! Why am I so concerned about making ‘them’ believe in it? Do I myself believe in the message?” I had not inserted myself into the process till that time, only if I had, would I have realised that it no longer was the (changed) lens I was wearing, it had become my eyes. It did generate a ripple, at least inside my own ocean.

The fact that around 30 young hearts and heads invested their lives for over a month (I joined in late December), with each other, working out of their way, to make it happen was an achievement in itself! (United excitement is not a prerogative of a clarion call for the war or cricket as many would like us to believe!) Not denying that we did it probably for ourselves, as we all had goals and expectations, they acted as threads weaving into a fabric of M4h. And the embroidery had to be beautiful. So I realised that our ambitions do not necessarily put as in competition, they often bring us together. A crucial lesson for life.

Those were the days of anxiety and nervousness but of alexanderian pursuit and hope too. We had all endeavoured faith in ourselves and each other. Somehow I knew we would pull it off. Prudence and optimism are more than just acquaintances. I loved (now in retrospect) the way everything had to go through channels of feedback and approval (I do not deny that it irritated me at times). A second and third opinion may be better than a coast guard when you are (consciously or unconsciously) about to sail into a turbulent ocean.

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M4H gave me friends, with new bonds struck, as I met wonderful people, and old ones got stronger as they supported and appreciated me in my efforts (and finally joined on the day of the event). The tension never overtook the sense of joy and jubilance of doing it. The relations that I built here, and satisfaction that I gained, percolated into other relationships with friends, family, and most importantly myself. I have always been somebody who derived energy from interacting with people. But each day spending time walking along seemingly impervious ring road (in the university campus) witnessing wonderous canopies waving at me, listening to the breeze whispering words of wisdom into my mind I started to realise I wasn’t a bad company! Each day I asked myself, ‘why am I doing it?’ only to hear my heart sing, reassuringly, ‘it makes you happy’.

I realised my potential, strengths and weaknesses both as a leader and a follower. I learnt how important building relationships of trust is. People stepped out (excitingly or reluctantly) of their comfort zones. At times, so willing they were to be uncomfortable that I wondered if, at all, that was ‘uncomfortable’! I had always felt impatience to be a more frequent visitor but perseverance pleasantly surprised me. I found myself multi-tasking that too without really giving into fearing to fail. Creativity had become the definitional attribute of the space. I had often felt experiencing ‘the room of requirements’ of Harry Potter kind where people would unleash skills and prowess to awe inspiring levels! It was magical but never unreal. I shall never forget those dance practices. The room was too tiny to either practice or execute. Notwithstanding this spatial limitation we made it! Doing flash-mobs in the Pravah office and in Dilli Haat is as vivid in my imagination as the last the second that passed by.

It was one of those journeys which, sometime in future, the old me will narrate to young kids (or adults!) some evening(s) in a park, each time with a tinge or bout of modification. Blimey!

I have romantically engaged in retrospection and pulled you in with me. Story telling is indeed a graphical medium of self-reflection. I have neither written an epilogue, nor did I intend to provide a panoramic view of M4h. I held a kaleidoscope, as I continue to do so. And that is what I offered you to peep into. It was pleasure having you along. Hope you enjoyed it!

In Solidarity, Love, and Friendship

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Astha Agarwal :p

 

Astha Agarwal is a Youth Facilitator and Volunteer at Pravah. During the Music for Harmony event she provided much energy to the performers, fellow staff and all of the audience as she served as a co-mistress of the ceremony.

Visit of the German Minister of Development Cooperation at Pravah

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A lot of preparation, a lot of phone calls and much hope were necessary, but then finally – it happened. The German Minister of the Development Cooperation visited the work of Pravah, displayed in the Old Delhi Night Shelter of the NGO Butterflies, and listened to the presentations of young Smilers.

In November 2013 a staff woman from the German Embassy asked if I would investigate the possibility of a site visit to Pravah by a high dignitary. I agreed, because I knew that Pravah had some great projects to offer and with its partnership with Misereor (an agency that is independently funded by the German Ministry), Pravah would be a good example to display the impactful work that had been done. 

In the first month of 2014 his plans became more concrete. The German President would visit India for a meeting with the Indian President, and the new Minister for Development Cooperation would come with him.

Aside from the official program, which was stuffed with meetings of politicians and other high-ranking persons from the Indian society, there would be a small time window for the Minister to hold a meeting with NGOs.

Fortunately, Pravah was chosen.
So, the organization started.
We decided to present several Pravah projects via a gallery walk. We wanted to create a free space were a conversation between the young people and the Minister could easily happen. We were told that he had a special interest in the young people’s perspective on the Indian society. We prepared materials on 4 topics: Pravah, unManifesto, MustBol, and the Post-2015 India Report (featuring work from Pravah in the youth section).

We asked some of the volunteers if they would be interested in presenting the programs. They agreed and so we met several times at the Pravah Office.  The structure of the program changed several times and we had to adapt. But then…

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On the morning of the 8th of February, Hano and I drove to the Night Shelter. We brought five ladders with us, which we wanted to use as the presentation surface.  After some miscommunication between us and the staff of Butterflies, we were able to set up the Gallery. Just before the minister entered the room, the volunteers and the Pravah people came.

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After he had a discussion with the children he came to Pravah. With great interest he followed the presentation of the volunteers. He asked a lot of questions and tried to get deeper in the material.   He wanted to know some more details about the background of the students and their views on Indian societies.


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At the end he thanked everyone and held a speech. He said that the meeting was really interesting for him and it would be great to see something different from the office rooms of high politicians. He said that the support through Misereor should be continued and he would speak with the head of the organization. At the end he said that he wouldn’t forget this meeting with these young, enthusiastic and dedicated people at least for the next 20 years – let’s hope so.

— Sven Przywarra

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Sven Przywarra is a volunteer at Pravah. He came to Pravah in 2013 from Germany (through Misereor) and will be partnering with Pravah for a year. 

Pravah’s richness is found not only in the waves of our programs, but also in the diversity of our staff and volunteers. If you are interested in partnering with Pravah as an organization or an individual volunteer, please email faiza@pravah.org
Also, Pravah is currently recruiting for staffing positions. If interested, please email jobs@pravah.org for more information.  

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