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How being a community leader affects the youth

The following statements were said to us by one of our youth leaders, Sharfuddin Gilani, who has been associated to us for over a year.

"Before becoming a volunteer in De Haath Society, I was totally not like this. Now I am confident, able to speak and have developed my personality into a mature person. Until a year back the boys in my locality used to go out and play together but I was always left out. I never fit in because I was not bold like them. I started considering them bad. For some reasons I had trouble speaking out what is there in my mind. This, I later realised, was because I had a fear of being judged. Since childhood I have seen personal family problems and they have taken a toll on me. But when I connected to this, I met other people and realised the problem through structured sessions and observing others. The safe non-judgmental space I received here helped me have a sense of achievement and self-worth. Gradually, I started being confident and speaking on things and taking a stand even in the community level. A few months into the volunteering, people could sense the change in me. And the same people whom I could not interact with earlier, now marvel at my personality and ask me how did this change come about. This also changed the way my family looks at me."

He does a job and despite that he took out time to teach children. Such transitions are important because if we have youth leaders who are responsible and inclined towards social development, we can empower entire communities. They are instrumental in local-level advocacy and taking action on community needs like having dustbin installed by municipal, having a water pump installed, etc. In an era where the youth is taking the lead, we need to empower them with knowledge, tools and perspectives.

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