“India’s secret weapon: Its young population”. But the term ‘Indian youth’ does not always stand for its exact meaning as India is divided into different strata with regards to the young population too.
Sadly, a negligible number of us are courageous enough to do something substantial to attack the roots of such social prejudice. Esteem Youth Foundation is one such non profit organization founded by Gaurav Agarwalla which is a humble yet significant effort aimed at motivating and shaping the youth of India.
EYF’s President Gaurav Agarwalla says “It all started when I was debarred from participation (without selection) in a national debate just because I stammered.” This shallow-hearted discrimination ignited a spark in him to start an organization that would work for providing young people with more opportunities and spread the spirit of volunteerism.
EYF started its activism by creating awareness in Assam where child labour is widespread. The organization’s prime objective is: promotion of all inclusiveness by granting the less fortunate youth equal opportunities and eliminating elitist mentality. As Gaurav puts it, “To bridge the gap between the two extreme sections of youth in India by development of leadership qualities amongst the educated youth through research (summer/winter research Internship) and conferences”. These young leaders in turn work in various fields for empowerment of the underprivileged youth and children.
The path to glory was not easy. When questioned about the initial obstacles faced by EVF, Gaurav recollects, “We were not a brand and the fact that it was started by a first year Under Graduate degree student made it even more difficult to gain trust. People took the idea very lightly. Finding dedicated members for the team was an uphill task too.
Gathering finances to fund the 1st Changemakers Confluence was another major obstacle since nobody was willing to sponsor a budding organization. But it took its own course once the work started. Although we are still self-funded; we are striving towards achieving the best, because the cause is bigger than the troubles”.
As an example for EYF’s attempt at changing an individuals life, Gaurav shares a story: “I came across a jhuggi boy, Rassal, who was a keen observer and brilliant speaker but could not show his skills due to the lack of opportunities and a pitiable financial situation. We got him to participate in the IHC general debate, held in 2013 on the topic ‘Foreign Direct Investment’. The boy did wonders in the competition. The local MLA was so impressed that he agreed to sponsor Rassal’s education for as long as he wanted to study!”
The three major projects organized by EYF are:
Yushaktikaran : Yushaktikaran is an amalgamation of two words “youth” and “empowerment” (Shashaktikaran). This will be a long term community intervention program by EYF for emancipation of the underprivileged youth through counseling, academic help, public speaking and a combination of various such activities. Project Yushaktikaran aims at empowering the students by providing them with enrichment classes, career options analyses and personality development programs.
Humanity at Muzzafarnagar: EYF members ardently participated in Muzzafarnagar relief campaign. Six volunteers were a part of this operation.
Change makers’ confluence: This national conference serves as a platform for the youth to discuss the issues directly with the stakeholders/policy-makers.
EYF has big plans for the future with the 2nd Changemakers’ Confluence coming up in August, ’14. It also hopes to make Yushaktikaran a nation-wide welfare project. “From a team of just two members EYF has successfully trained 50 leaders in a years’ time!”, says Gaurav with a beaming smile.