We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.
– Franklin D. Roosevelt
As the world grows at a very fast moving pace, it has become more of a race than a developing process. We often forget those who are socially or economically challenged to keep up. This only widens the gap between the impoverished and those who can afford buying their way into the future. More than this being a threat to their economic development, it causes a psychological hindrance in the minds of those who know what it is like to be a survivor of society.
India has the fastest growing youth population which is predicted to reach 64% of the total population by 2020, making it the world’s youngest country. Many of the youth in slums and rural areas are unemployed and have no basic qualifications. Most of them suffer from a loss of aspirations and motivation due to social discriminations, substance abuse, and family pressures.
In order to give hope and create opportunities for the youth to overcome such obstacles, enable them to grow and develop educationally, economically, physically and emotionally we started conducting monthly youth programs and camps. At these programs, we conduct activities which help the youth to understand and also talk about the social and economic issues like human rights and substance abuse through debates, theatre, and group discussions. We help them to build their social behavior and attitude towards life through team sports, outstation camps and counselling.
Until 2016, we had a total of approximately 150 youth attending our big youth events from 6 different slums and villages. Yearly we have an outstation camp where the regular attendees of our programs are given priority to join and participate in life-changing experiences in a controlled and protected environment. Girls between the age of 16 and 25 suffer through a lot of social pressures and traditional discrimination. Our camps and programs are also aimed at eradicating these false norms and boundaries between men and women in the society. Girls participation in our youth programs and camps has risen over the last few years and we hope that they can be the change and educate the society about their rights. Due to organizational and focus changes, we have decided to hand over the youth development projects to other local organizations and we now focus only on the youth from the village Eraiyur, where we operate other projects as well (for total community development), and the surrounding villages.
The youth attending our programs show a high improvement in their social and emotional attitudes. We encourage the youth by helping them realize their strengths and involve them in leadership and functional activities at our programs. They have a desire to become better people, lead a clean and healthy life, and they have become perseverant and confident to exercise their full potential.