The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow and young Indians have an increasing social conscience that we want to encourage and support.
Twice a year we welcome the next generation of social workers and activists to attend a three-day conference to learn more about our work and discuss social issues. High profile guest speakers, such as Anna Hazare, inspire and debate their work with attendees covering subjects as diverse as human rights law, violence against women, child protection and the power of social media. The programmes not only raise important issues in our wider community, they also encourage social work as a subject and as a vocation.
As well as organizing our twice-yearly youth motivation camps, our Yuva Nirman Project Coordinator, Nitin acts as a mentor and supporter of our youth network arranging a full program of social work activities throughout the year. These include one-off activities such as environmental clean ups, rallies and aid work following natural disasters. In 2015, Nitin was one of a small team of youth volunteers were among the first on the scenes distributing relief, clothing and blankets to victims of the Chennai floods.
Coming from a lower-class family in rural village near Ahmednagar, Nitin was educated in government schools and wanted to continue into higher education. However, he fell into some bad company and started getting into petty quarrels and street fights becoming a nuisance to his parents and neighbors. His future was starting to look bleak so his father decided it would be better for him to attend a college far away from the village and its bad influences.
So, he enrolled at Ralegan Siddhi College in Ahmednagar where he heard about the Phoenix Academy, an initiative of Snehalaya, which helped young people prepare for competitive exams such as for recruitment to the Police. As well as academic studies, Phoenix also conducted physical training which included attending Snehalaya’s youth camp. This proved to be a turning point for Nitin. When he met the children at Snehalaya’s shelter home, he knew he wanted to work for and with them and started volunteering with our Childline. There he was involved in the rescue of many child laborers, bringing many orphaned children to a new life at Snehalaya and helping others with medical treatment.
Slowly but surely Nitin became more immersed in Snehalaya and his former life of bullying, quarreling and street fighting became a distant memory. He’s been the project coordinator of the very project that started this journey of transformation for three years now, having taken and followed the advice and guidance our founder Girish Kulkarni shared with him and so many of other youths attending our camp. He says: “I have no interest in any other job or business, my main aim in life is to continue working with Snehalaya to inspire many more youths to join the cause and use social work to help others.”