In a first for Snehalaya, we invited youths and guest speakers from across South Asia to attend and join forces for social inclusion, at our three-day Yuva Nirman Amrut Mahotsav Youth Camp.
Around 450 youth Karmaveers from all levels and states of our country were selected for the camp. Inspired by local and foreign activists and social workers, they resolved to preserve India's unique culture, based on multiculturalism and inclusiveness, in our 31st camp which also marked 75 years of Indian independence.
The future of the country and world is becoming grey with growing levels of violence and hatred. Our mission is to work with the youth to spread goodwill in society and, by sharing our strengths and abilities, address the issues in the hope that together we can change the country for the benefit of all.
Sharing their experiences with the campers were Maharashtra Governor, Bhagatsinh Koshyari, retired Supreme Court Justice, who worked for war refugees from Bangladesh in 1971, Hemant Gokhale, Bangladeshi human rights activist, Tandra Barua, and from the Gandhi Ashram Trust in Nokhali, Bangladesh, President, Major General (retired) Jiban Das and, Chief Coordinator Rah Nabkumar.
Further inspiration came from writer-researcher and filmmaker, Swati Chakraborty Bhatkal, Founder member of Paani Foundation, Lancey Fernandes, Founder of Samaritan Help Mission, Bengal, Mamun Akhtar, and senior freedom fighters Dr. S. N. Madhusudan Das from Odisha, who is carrying forward with the work of Subbarao's National Youth Yojana.
Representatives of Snehalaya sharing insights into our mission and work included founder members, Padma Bhushan Anna Hazare and Padmashri Poptrao Pawar, Secretary, Rajeev Gujar, President, Sanjay Gugle and trustee, Arun Sheth.
Recognising social work
While many of the above are well-known activists, much of Snehalaya’s work takes place at grassroots level and we truly appreciate those who inspire on a daily basis on a more local level. During his visit, the Governor of Maharashtra honored Nick Cox, from the UK has been a full-time volunteer on our projects since 2015, Ranjana, a former sex worker now runs her own flour mill after leaving the flesh trade, and Saba Ali, a former student of our Balbhavan project in the slums of Ahmednagar, who delayed her marriage with our help to become a qualified engineer.
Mamoon Akhtar was also awarded this year's Smt Shobha Mahadev Kulkarni Adarsh Teacher Award, presented by Mrs Indira Shamkant More from Pune.
In a celebration of multiculturalism, religious prayers from all denominations were held in the camp every evening.
A highlight of the camp came from our students of Snehalaya who presented "Bharat Ki Santhan," a musical program expressing the cultural diversity of India. Cultural programs of every state, from Bhangra to Kathakali, were performed by the youth. On top of this there was Sufi singing by Pandit Pawan Naik, Shiksha Snehal Parsekar by Sucheta Chapekar, Bharatnatyam, Lavani by Kiran Kore and Maharashtrian culture.
The three-day Bharat Anubhuti Yatra introduced the campers from India and abroad to India's culture, history, and service activities. Campers were also able to visit Gandhitirtha at Verul, Ajanta, Jalgaon, and social organisations and universities in Ahmednagar district. They were also
given a historical tour of Ahmednagar.
The camp was organized and managed by our Yuva Nirman (Youth Volunteer) program, established in 2000 to build the character of the youth and inspire them to service work. Additional support came from Snehalaya, Anamprem, Vidyarthi Sahak Samiti (Srigonde), Snehprem (Karjat), Uchal Foundation (Shevgaon), Snehsawali (Beed), and other organisations.
Our Yuva Nirman team organises a range of youth camps and cycles rallies annually. It aims to deeply study society's issues and give a feel for various service activities. Yuva Nirman provides initial help and guidance to those doing actual service work and has helped found many organisations inspired by Snehalaya.
Last year, on Amrit Mahotsav of Independence, Yuva Nirman organized a 4,280 km India-Bangladesh Goodwill Cycle Yatra and this year’s camp announced that the 6th Sadbhavana Cycle Yatra Youth Project would take place from September 22 to October 2, travelling 700 km from Ralegansiddhi to Dandi. The journey will interact with 30 social organizations and activists on the road. If you would like to be involved please contact email@example.com.