Introduction: South Asian Youth Festival 2020
South Asian Youth Festival 2020 is organized to gather youths from South Asian Countries, connect with them, share and learn their perspective, and develop a strong bond. The 3- weeks-long program is organized on the occasion of International Youth Day 2020 to celebrate youth power, energy, creativity, success, and capabilities. This festival which is being organized virtually will continue till 3rd of September. The festival is organized in collaboration with various South Asian organizations like UNICEF- ROSA; UNESCO; A2I, Cabinet Division, Bangladesh, UNDP; National Youth Council Nepal; CYDA, India; CYN, Sri Lanka; Pinnacle Consultancy Pvt. Ltd, Maldives; Dynamic Youth Afghanistan; Maldives National Youth Council; Coca-Cola; Turkish Airlines & South-South Network.
The third panel discussion of the South Asian Youth Festival on “Youth Social Engagement Panel” was focused on social engagement, encouragement, and impacts. The third-panel discussion was held on Friday, 14 August 2020.
A discussion among the well-known, hardworking and insightful panelists; Mr. Kazi Ismail Hossain Rumon, Education & Health Activist, Team Leader, Project Golden Ribbon, Bangladesh; Ms. Ruhi Rusoba Jahwa Jahan, Rover mate, Open Scout Group, Bangladesh; Mr. Ali Fayez, Youth Activist, Afghanistan; Ms. Bipana Sharma, Child Right Activist, Nepal; Mr. Pritesh Kamble, Team Member, Youth4Change, India. The session was moderated by Mr. Kaushal Raj Sapkota, Director, MBA Non-profit, King’s College.
The enthusiastic discussion among the experienced panelists highlighted their perspective on social engagement, their experienced stories, and their initiation towards the nation to bring positive change.
Mr. Ajay Pandey (Brand and IT Manager at Glocal Pvt. Ltd) shared few words on organizing SAYF 2020, “The festival is being organized to connect with youths from all over south Asian countries to interact with them and make them aware and understand about the importance of skills.”
Moderator of the session, Mr. Kaushal Raj Sapkota, Director, MBA Non-profit, King’s College started the session with a short description of the panelist. He warmed up the first segment discussion with the general questions for the speakers.
Moderator: “What does youth social engagement mean to you and why do you think it is important for the people of South Asia?
Ms. Ruhi Rusoba Jahwa Jahan, Rover mate, Open Scout Group, Bangladesh explained her points regarding youth engagement. As there is a saying youth are the future of our nation. Youth play an incredible role in the mission towards the development of their community, region, country, and the world. It is the crucial time in their life to learn, invest, prepare for the future development connecting within the development activities, creating networks, developing skills, and much more. As a result, it helps youth to grow up to be confident, commitment, creative, inspirational, capable in every aspect of your life to develop the whole region.
Moderator asked the same question to Mr. Pritesh Kamble, Team Member, Youth4Change, India. He answered youths are our future. There is a link between adolescence, teenager, and young people like a pyramid. So, youth can build knowledge to grow up. Through youth engagement, youth can get opportunities, services, and support for social change.
Ms. Bipana Sharma, Child Right Activist, Nepal shared her perspective towards the same question. She said, “Youths are not just our future. Youth are the present of our country as well as the world. Social engagement is being part of the social change that youths want to create.” Youth engagement is important for youths. So, they can contribute to the country, bring change, help the government to achieve whatever youth want. Engaging in social activities is a very good idea to know yourselves, a good opportunity to explore and identify yourselves.
Mr. Ali Fayez, Youth Activist, Afghanistan added his viewpoint on the same question. Youth’s potential, capability, and innovation can bring positive change in society. He explained UN Security Council adopted a resolution 2250 perspective and the component factor on youth, peace, security, and social change. The reaction of youth and a youth perspective to bring a social change.
Mr. Sapkota requested Mr. Kazi Ismail Hossain Rumon, Education & Health Activist, Team Leader, Project Golden Ribbon, Bangladesh to share his viewpoint regarding the question. Youths are an important part of society for social engagement. If youths are engaged in any kind of social activity, they can develop their skills, create network, learn about teamwork, leadership, and explore themselves.
Moving into the next question, “Based on your experience, what is your story? How did you decided to become who you are today? How did the inspiration come from to be involved in social youth engagement?”
Mr. Ali Fayez urged even though there are a lot of conflicts in Afghanistan but the number of youths involving in social activity is increasing. He added the context matters a lot. Afghanistan is one of the basic motivations that vertically give a motive to young people to be active. The resolution 2250 one of the fundamental documents which internationally recognized the role of youth and social change. In different provinces, different kinds of conflict are going on but there are different activities are carried on by the youth. He started his journey by advocating for resolution 2250. In Afghanistan, the National Youth Policy help youth’s initiation and support their work actively. He worked with a thousand youths and started a leadership skill as well.
The same question was raised to Mr. Rumon. He shared his inspirational journey and explained about the project called, “Golden Ribbon” which works for child cancer. He clarified this project inspires volunteer intuition and the important is volunteers are collecting blood for the child cancer patients.
Ms. Sharma shared her long inspirational journey, achievements that she faced in the path of the journey. Her journey started at the age of 11. She came to know that the Nepal Government has introduced local child-friendly government. Child- friendly government which provides overall guidance for the development of children. Then, she was inspired to work in the field of Child Rights. She started her participation for developing Child club and have guts to make city child-friendly. Moreover, she explained how she got inspiration from society. Now, still, she is continuing her journey and the things are changing.
The moderator of the session, Mr. Sapkota invited Ms. Ruhi to share her start-up journey and, her inspirational story. She is involved in two wonderful social projects; “Odrik Talks” and “Ticket to Life”. These two projects has been started so that youths can modify themselves out of their own need to improve themselves and the community in the process. Ms. Ruhi and along with her friend founded the project called, “Odrik Talks”. The project is based on gender inequality, gender-based violence, and oppression.
Ms. Ruhi was involved in Ticket to Life project to educate street children (unprivileged, orphan, abandoned, homeless), and integrating them back into society by giving them better opportunities through scouting. Besides teaching scouting, the project aims to provide counseling, soft skills, and also teach them about hygiene and health care.
Mr. Sapkota started the second segment discussion with the specific questions for the speakers.
Moderator: “There are a lot of challenges that we need to think about and talk about solving it? According to the policy as you said, who do you think you are stable to involved in the process? If you are a youth trying to make a change? How do you tackle them? How have you been taking forward?
Mr. Ali Fayez said, talking about the stakeholders as we are interconnected with each other. Youth, adults, or any other stakeholders cannot change the thought of society because this is the reality that we live in together. This has been important that we should adopt a policy approach in our activities. He mentioned some examples and his personal experience regarding stakeholders.
Moderator:” When you work with the Sunwal Municipality, the first child-friendly city in Nepal. Did you face some difficulties in working with elders or people who have more experienced? What were the challenges and how did you pass with?”
Ms. Sharma put forward her experiences, her challenging stories to make the city child-friendly. The starting of anything can never be smooth. She explained it was the first time working with the municipality with the tagline, “first child-friendly” municipality in Nepal. She shared her journey and her contribution towards making the city child-friendly.
Moderator: “What is the role of volunteering in your life as a youth activist? How do you see the journey as a volunteer for someone who is just starting to think about these issues? How can they start their journey?”
According to the question, Mr. Rumon shared his perspective that youths cannot establish a project or social action project without the help of mentors, partners, and leader. Youth leadership is important to encourage young people to reach their full potential for youth development. He addressed a good example of a leader and added, having some mentors, people or some umbrella organization is important to support your mission, initiation, and help your work activity. He shared a memorable and touching inspirational story and his volunteer journey.
Ms. Ruhi started her insightful talk by pointing out youth roles in their society. Youth should concern about themselves, their role, their participation, and engagement in society. She added, interacting with victims, listening to the young people or children- their stories and experiences to improve us for better solution things to do for them. She concluded her point by adding a beautiful line,” People will say a lot of things but it’s on you how you take those – to improve yourself or stop there.” As a volunteer, it’s important to have strong backing or an umbrella that we can easily work with resources as a structure. It will be helpful for youths if the resources are present.
The final segment discussion headed towards a rapid-fire for the speakers where they put forward their perspective. After completing the rapid-fire segment, the program moved towards the Question and Answer session in which all participants were asked to raise their questions.
In general, the third session ended in an intellectual, very interactive, and insightful way. It was indeed an exceptional discussion with the South Asian young youths for sharing their perception of social engagement, their thoughts, and experience stories in the platform of the South Asian Youth Festival.