It is well documented that India is witnessing a demographic shift, quickly becoming one of the youngest countries in the world. It is home to one of the largest and fastest growing youth populations, with 40% of India's inhabitants aged between 18 and 35 years. At ALFA, we believe that it is crucial to recognize the youth as autonomous change agents who have the energy, passion and creativity to make a difference to society rather than merely workers or consumers. ALFA maintains that by creating a '5th space' that is safe, empowering and inclusive and through facilitating cross border relationships amongst young people we can bring the youth together and create an awareness about the society they live in and its social, economic and political issues. ALFA's Youth Engagement Program focuses on school and college youth in the age group of 16 to 25 years enabling the young people to undergo a learning journey through Youth Resource Centres and ultimately building a group of young change makers equipped to make changes in both their own lives and in their communities. The intervention aims to foster self-development of the youth through life skills education, build social awareness, develop community leadership and challenge socio cultural boundaries though encouraging friendships between people of diverse backgrounds.
A common collective space is created for young people to come and learn and engage in activities such as: newspaper reading and discussions, health awareness activities, leadership and trust building activities, exposure visits to neighbouring communities, film screenings, cultural activities with foreign interns, field games, community volunteer projects, guest lectures, career guidance and educational classes on computer, English and Hindi languages.
We aim to build a strong capacity to address issues of SRHR and ECM with young people byempowering them to lead processes of change for their own lives and for their communities. We will do this through a 4 step approach:
1. Designing & facilitating a learning & leadership journey for young people.
2. Capacity Building & mentoring of 12 youth leaders.
3. Campaigning & Networking
4. Organizational strengthening and capacity building
Thus, a total cadre of 12 youth leaders will be built over 2 years who would be able to amplify the movement on SRHR in their respective communities.
ALFA is constantly striving to identify the needs of the communities and needs within the organization itself. Once needs have been identified ALFA conducts capacity building training exercises in order to insure that ALFA community members are well equipped to tackle specific problems in the future. Additionally, ALFA places great importance on developing leadership skills amongst the youth leaders so that they can effectively facilitate and mentor other youths in the community. ALFA believes in creating social change makers and several of these change makers have come out of various trainings and workshops.
ALFA have secured three youth centres within the Kherwara block conducting programs with many youths each week. The establishment of ALFA youth centres are a positive presence in the community representing a place where core ALFA ideals can be openly explored and discussed. Youth centres are empowering spaces for young people where they can participate and not be discriminated on the basis of caste, sex, religion, nationality Youth resource centres are a fundamental part of ALFA as they are the place that most of our activities are conducted and performed.
ALFA has been working for the empowerment of women from the last three years. The first SHG was formed in 2012 in Bambala village and our program is expanded to 15 villages now with 16 SHGs which has a total reach out to more than 240 women. SHGs were started and initiated to create an empowering space for women coming from the same socio-economic background where they can gather at one place and discuss the local community issues and also do some monthly deposit to save money which in turn would make them financially independent. This has helped women to empower in both ways, economically and socially. Forming SHGs gave an opportunity to women from rural, marginalized and backward communities to be able to come and meet together with other women, interact and discuss on social issues like health, education, local governance, gender discrimination and communalism. All the groups have four leaders elected by the group members and the group functions completely by all the group members only. ALFA is helping in forming new SHGs wherever there is a need, strengthening the existing SHGs, providing the capacity building training to the leaders and the regular members of the group and helping them in accessing the government schemes. With the help of SHGs, women are able to participate in the Panchayat meetings now and raise their voice on the local issues of the village. Women are also motivating and encouraging their children to go to school, to participate in the activities of Youth Resource Centres of ALFA and also to work on social issues as they too believe that young people and their participation plays an important role in the development of the village.
ALFA firmly believes in the need for communities within Udaipur District to set aside preconceptions of others within their community and focus on community development to re-establish peace. Through the use of workshops ALFA aims to facilitate understanding of other cultures within the community. Moreover, the use of workshops helps to build the capacities of the youth to become advocates of peace in their communities.
ALFA conducts film screenings on various issues including peace and harmony, films are always followed by a discussion. The screening of films and documentaries helped the participants to understand and connect the issues with their local community. Films are a good way to bring about change in societies thinking towards other communities.
Community Peace Centre Udaipur is an initiative of ALFA Educational Society, to bring together the young people coming from different caste and religious backgrounds and to support them in facilitating a dialogue and cooperation. The centre aims at bringing the target youth participants from different parts of Udaipur district. The centre involves discussion with all youth participants which helps them in going through an experiential learning process; develop their understanding on the dialogue and conflict transformation, cultural differences and perspectives. The centre focuses on the possibilities of living and learning together through various different interactive activities. Different included screening of films and documentaries followed by the discussion, study circle, group discussions, games, workshops and training.
The Diversity walk is a regular activity which is conducted with youth participants coming from different religions, castes and background. The motivation behind the walk is to have cultural exchange between different community members and to understand cultural differences and perspectives. In this walk, all participants visit Dargah and Temple to understand the religious styles of Hindu and Muslim communities followed by the discussion. The discussion helped in understanding on the current reasons/challenges of growing gap between Hindu and Muslim youth and what could be the possible solutions to address those challenges. Youth shared that communication gap is one of the most important things which is making creating a larger gap between youth coming from both the communities. This walk is helping in the increasing the participation of all different community members and aims at creating a friendly society.