Niharika Pansoriya was 15 years old when her father, a daily wager, burnt her school books in a drunken state. It is an image that is deeply entrenched in her mind.
But rather than fuelling anger or frustration, the incident has turned Niharika, now 19 years old, and a student of BA first year, into a social mobiliser who is trying to change the life of other children who have faced similar experiences.
“My immediate aim is to ensure school enrollment of at least 15 children during the upcoming academic session,” says Niharika, who runs a project Rangmanch for such deprived children in four settlements of the city.
Niharika is among 14 youngsters from the state who are part of a year-long leadership programme Changelooms With.in of Delhi-based NGOs Commutiny—the Youth Collective (CYC) and Pravah.
The programme was launched in July 2014 in six states to support 100 such potential youth leaders. Supported by Poor Areas Civil Society (PACS), it is coordinated in Madhya Pradesh by Harda-based NGO Synergy Sansthan.
“The objective is to mentor these young persons to lead social change initiatives and address social exclusion within their communities. It is basically about providing opportunities and director to the energy and passion of the youth,” Vimal Jat of Synergy told HT.
The 14 youth leaders from MP shared their experiences in an event to be held at Gandhi Bhavan on Saturday. HT spoke to the participants from Bhopal.
Manohar Ranawat, 21, is a commerce graduate seeking to pursue MBA. But meanwhile, he is propelling two groups of youngsters - one exclusively for girls — in poor settlements of Bhopal. Son of a man who was a bonded labourer as a youngster, Manohar is trying to develop personalities and leadership qualities in other youths so that they could take up various issues surrounding them.
“Despite his struggle as a labourer, my father has ensured that we siblings get educated and do not have to face situations like him. This has encouraged me to try and help other young people too,” says Manohar.
Bali Jagat, also 21, had difficulty persuading her tribal parents to let her complete her education with the help of an NGO. Now a graduation student, Bali, not only teaches children at informal classes run by the same NGO (Muskaan), but also runs a small project for tribal girls in Kotra Sultanabad area of Bhopal.
“The aim is to mentally equip the girls to say no to excesses against them like discontinuation of education and early marriage. The girls were simply not let out of home earlier, now they are allowed to take small tours of city with me,” Bali, whose father works as a daily wager, says.
“Youth leaders have done well over the last 10 months and we are certain that they would get support to carry on with their work in future,” Jat expressed hope.