Ringing in social change

Komal, in next two year will be 14-years old. Like other girls around her, she will be gaining puberty but with that her life will take a sudden turn. Komal will be thrown into flesh trade, forced to follow her mother who is a sex worker in GB Road brothel. And, this is a matter of concern for Sanchi, a 25-year old has been working with kids like Komal and for whom it is crucial to be kept away from the flesh trade.

“It haunts me and my team members as to how we can save Komal’s life. Even if we take her out of there, the question is where we will keep her,” says Sanchi, a member of ‘Kat-Katha’ an organisation run by Geetanjali Babbar that aims to provide an environment of fun and learning for kids belonging to didis (sex workers) at GB Road.

“These kids know what their mothers do inside the rooms. By the time girls reach 14, they know what they have to do and boys become more aggressive as they see only violence around them. Our organisation wants to change the mindset of these kids, show them the world that they are unexposed to. Basically, we want to bring a mental revolution,” says Sanchi who came with Komal and a few other children to share the journey of Kat-Katha with other youth led organisations from different parts of the country.

Kat-Katha was of Pravah and CYC’s Change Looms Learning and Leadership Journey, a programme that supports young people who have started their own social initiatives. Twenty-two young change leaders from 17 teams across the country shared their journey of bringing about social transformation.

It included ‘Young Club’ from Dimapur which was started by 29-year old Jen. ‘Young Club’ was started after Jen lost his younger brother to drug overdose. “A majority of young kids in Dimapur are drug addicts because they all come from broken families. I come from a similar background but the course of my life changed when I lost my brother when he was just 18,” says Jen. “At that time I decided to channelise the energy of youth. Today, I work with kids who are HIV Positive and involve youth participation to help those kids living a life free from drugs and abuse,” says Jen.

Similarly, the frustration and futility that Hejang experienced when he witnessed the ethnic violence in Manipur spurred him to start Inside NE – an initiative that seeks to build peace and provides young people an alternative path to violence. Other youth run programmes included Deeksha, Youth Alliance and Safe Safar besides several others.
Several young leaders talked about the challenges they faced when it came to explaining to their parents the choice of setting up their own social initiative instead of opting for a conventional career. For them it was more daunting than the challenges they faced in the community! But they’ve succeeded and how!

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