Connecting local responses around the world
Background : We started CLCP with adolescents( age group 17-19 years old) who attend computer classes in SAATHI Community centre of Institute of Social Studies Trust, Delhi, India. The aim is how they can be themselves and discover their inner potential. Additionally, how can they value and support each other and work towards a community they want. We met the adolescent girls, then boys and finally on 2nd November 2018, we invited both the groups to meet and share with each other. During this meeting the young people suggested that our main stakeholders are the younger boys and girls who are vulnerable to drugs and alcohol. So in the next meeting on 8th Nov, we invited the age group of 11-13 olds.
Meeting on 8th Nov- We listened to the advice of the youth and for the next meeting invited 11-13 years old as stakeholders. Strengths in these 11-13 years old surprised us.These young children shared their concerns and hopes for the communities. They were very confident and as the young people later remarked the 11-13 years olds seemed to know and care more for the environment and the community.
These 11-13 years olds raised serious concern for drugs and alcohol in the area. Wish our neighbourhood was more clean and tidy they said. We keep our homes spick and span but outside we do not keep it clean . Bad language is something I feel is common amongst children said at least four of them. Everyone from very young age begins to use bad language added another child. Bickering and fights amongst adults on basis of caste was one thing which they said disturbed them a lot. They wondered that children of different castes do not fight and play to together but what happens when children grow up and as adults start fighting? So we put the question back to them, what would you want in your community when you grow up? Their eyes twinkled. We want a happy and harmonious community.
But situation is not bad everywhere. They shared two shining examples of a community response- a group in one of the blocks is very active in encouraging people to reduce alcohol consumption and in another block people like to keep the public area quite clean.
Majority of the 11-13 years old children in their final reflections said that they had learned a lot from each other and many of them said now they will not use bad language. One of the older boys concluded that we have to start from our ownselves. We cannot shift responsibility to others.
What changes do I see in the boys and girls whom we are working with?
They have begun to appreciate each other. They were trying to listen, learn from and appreciate the younger kids. they facilitated the conversation amongst small groups of 11-13 years olds. They are growing as facilitators. Also a team like feeling is emerging. For the first time we did an After experience reflection (AER) together.
Challenges in facilitation: Most boys turned up but again the number of girls were fewer. We realised that we need to meet boys and girls in different group as their availability is at different times. The girls have morning classes at school whereas boys have evening classes.
Conclusion : We adults need to value voices of the teenagers and youth. Voices of our future are important and worth listening to. And through Community life competence process clearly we are observing that young people care about issues of the community. they want to volunteer and make a difference. Sometimes we adults might turn cynics but youth are more hopeful. What we are trying to do through this process is create a safe space for young people- to visualise what is their dream, what do they want and how can they achieve it based on their strengths.