Adolescents are the backbone of society, future leaders, and what not? They are not only the pillars of their family but also the hope for society and change agents for socio-economic transformation. So, an active engagement of adolescents in social and community development and family wellbeing is incumbent for achieving several mainstream goals.
Adolescents are often eager to learn new things. So as a saying goes ‘teach to catch fish rather than giving away fish every day’, teenagers need to be taught about health, hygiene, moral values, social issues, and life skills. Keeping this in view, SAHAS Nepal added stepping stones in many adolescents' life by enhancing their knowledge, life skills, and attitudes towards sociocultural values. SAHAS Nepal first formed five SAMVAD groups, one in each of the five wards of Ajirkot Rural Municipality, Gorkha, Nepal in March 2021 comprising adolescents between 13 to 19 years old. A total of 124 adolescents were trained initially, and they have been using their knowledge and skills to organize different social campaigns in their communities. Activities such as gambling, smoking and drinking, gender and caste-based discrimination, child marriage, untouchability, and domestic violence are deep-rooted social problems hindering peace, security, harmony, well-being, and overall socio-economic development.
With technical and financial support from SAHAS Nepal, SAMVAD groups have been raising, as a wake-up call, their voice against these evil practices. Adolescents' battle against violence in their families, neighbors, schools, workplaces, and communities have taught people and the local governments valuable lessons about social harmony. "We would not have been able to share our thoughts and ideas had SAHAS not formed SAMVAD groups" 16 years old Subash B.K. says. He adds," We have been cleaning our surroundings at an interval of 15 days". This is a testimony of how their actions have improved deliberation skills and the sense of responsibility among SAMVAD members.
Nothing comes on a silver platter. Or the change was not possible without the hard work of youth. SAHAS Nepal supported revolving fund to combat the 2nd wave of COVID 19 has been utilized by two members of a SAMVAD group for rearing goats. They have planned to buy study materials like note/exercise books and pencils from the income generated through regular group savings.
During the lockdown period, SAHAS Nepal organized an awareness program in ward No 5 and distributed face-masks and soaps which have reduced the risk of COVID-19 transmission. One of the participants, Roshani Gurung (17 years old) said, "We had heard about the ways to prevent COVID-19 via TV/radio, but practical skill in hand-wash learned from the project helped a lot to remember handwashing steps". Since the youth form an important part of our society's future, they need to be properly educated, guided, encouraged, advised, taught, and shown the way to live a healthy and productive life. "Initially our children were not emotionally close to their families, so they used to take the things lightly. But as they got this platform, I have seen some positive changes in behavior and regularity in the study". A ward member, Mr. Om Bahadur Gurung of Ward No. 5 says. Energetic teenagers could significantly change the outlook of their society. So it is everyone's duty especially the middle-aged and the senior citizens to guide the adolescents as the future of our society lies in the latter’s hands when they shoulder the responsibility of flourishing their families, communities, and the nation.
Prepared by: Sujata Regmi