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10 Young People Who Are Going Out And Being The Change They Want To See In This World

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By Lipi Mehta

How often do we find ourselves groaning and complaining about the state of the world? Climate change is leading to extreme weather conditions, the gap between the poor and the wealthy hardly seems to decrease. And ‘progress’? A difficult word to use in surroundings where you can hardly see any real change. So then we complain about this and that, about being stuck in the traffic and prices of vegetables hitting the roof by the dozen! And what happens once we’re done cursing? In most situations, nothing.

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Somil Daga

But here are 10 individuals who decided to do something. On National Youth Day, the stories of these young people are sure to inspire you. And if you know of anyone who’s doing some exemplary work, do share their stories with us in the comments below.

1. Somil Daga

A graduate from the Vellore Institute of Technology and an engineer by profession, Somil decided to work towards providing lighting and charging provisions in Gangapur village of Pusa block, Samastipur district, Bihar. And what keeps him going? “The smiles on the faces of people in whose lives you are bringing some change.”

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Shashank Deora

Read his full story here: From Darkness To Light: How Somil Daga Changed Things In This Village In Bihar

2. Shashank Deora

A forest management student who chose to work for the upliftment of rural Chhattisgarh rather than become an IFS officer! Shashank gave one year of his life to work with the local population of Bastar district and created self-help groups and did not let any failures deter him from working on other projects.

Read his full story here: Would You Work In A Village For 1 Year If Given The Chance? Meet Someone Who Did

simren
Simren Singh

3. Simren Singh

Amidst societal taboos and stigmatization, Simren took it upon herself to raise awareness about women’s health in rural Rajasthan. Not only that, she went a step ahead and started working on the production of sanitary napkins using the local cloth for women of that area. She empowered the women of the area, not only be educating them about menstrual hygiene but by giving them a means of livelihood by making eco-friendly sanitary pads!

Read her full story here: In Rural Rajasthan, A Woman Is Setting Other Women Free, One Sanitary Napkin At A Time

4. Jithin Nedumala

Seven years ago, Jithin stepped into a shelter home in Cochin to celebrate his friend’s admission to a prestigious college with the children there. Once he saw how much these kids needed and understood their problems in a deeper way, he vowed to never turn back. He created ‘Make A Difference’ or ‘MAD’ which is India’s fastest growing youth volunteer network today, with its presence in 23 cities!

Read his full story here: With His Inspiring Journey, The Founder Of ‘MAD’ Will Make You Believe In The Power Of Change

Image source: Blogspot
Srikanth Bolla. Source: Blogspot

5. Srikanth Bolla

Srikanth Bolla was told that he couldn’t pursue the sciences because he was blind. He was told to leave aside his dreams of being an engineer. But that didn’t pull him down – in fact, it made him stronger! Srikanth went on to become the first visually challenged student from India to get admission at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology and today has helped hundreds of people with disabilities find meaningful employment.

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Pallavi Kodelkalmath

Watch his story here: How Being Blind Didn’t Stop Srikanth Bolla From Clearing MIT, Becoming An Entrepreneur

6. Pallavi Kodelkalmath

Born and brought up in rural India, Pallavi is no stranger to the problems that women face in many places across the country. Inspired to empower them, she set up a project to enable them to earn their own livelihoods. In some villages of Karnataka, she trained women in handicraft making and food processing, and through various activities helped 352 women become entrepreneurs!

Find out more about story here: Watch How 1 Girl Enabled 352 Women In Rural Karnataka To Stand On Their Own Feet

7. Suneeta

Born into a marginalised family, married off at 12, but today, a fearless journalist in the heart of Uttar Pradesh! Suneeta’s story is one of conviction and the willpower to turn her life around. Along with a group of other journalists, she works with Khabar Lahariya, India’s only multilingual, multimedia news network that is run by a collective of rural women journalists.

Watch a video on her journey here: Married At 12, Journalist At 27: The Khabar Lahariya Journalist Who’s Changed Lives

8. Chhaya Sonavane

Chhaya was born and brought up in rural Maharashtra. With 7 children to fend for, her parents found it tough to make ends meet and she was married off after her 10th standard. When her husband had to change jobs and things became even more difficult, Chhaya decided to learn stitching and started her own classes when she was in her 20s. It has been 25 years today and she has trained more than 3000 women to earn their own livelihoods!

Read her full story here: The Reluctant Entrepreneur: A Woman Who Changed 3000 Lives Without Even Realising It

9. Santosh Patil

Santosh Patil has worked in rural Karnataka and educated over a 100 farmers about the importance of organic farming and negative effects of pesticides. He lived and worked with the farmers’ community and even came up with an ingenious solution to prevent bullock cart accidents at night.

Watch him talk about his projects here: Watch What Happened When A Young Man Applied Radium To A Bullock Cart
Akshay

10. Akshay Saxena

Akshay is the Founder and President of Avanti, an organisation whose learning centres provide low-income students with world-class science and mathematics education. He was accepted at Harvard Business School but he decided to become a social entrepreneur instead and change the lives of those in need.

Watch him share his story at Youth Ki Awaaz’s flagship event, Converge: “Why I Paused Harvard To Change The World”: Akshay Saxena At CONVERGE

So why wait? Clichéd but true – Be the change you want to see in this world.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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