As October slips away into chilly evenings and the occasional boom of a firecracker going off in the distance, November commemorates not only the festival of lights but also something as crucial, if not more- Children’s Day. On our expedition to create a suitable platform to represent the country’s youth through literature, art and culture, we’ve once again spoken to our readers and plucked out some testimonials that prove to us that the youth, indeed, is the cornerstone of our society. From achieving milestones at a ripe age to battling academic pressure, whilst advocating for all the right causes, they’re doing a lot and we couldn’t be prouder of them. In an attempt to celebrate the little joys and the achievements and shed light on the hurdles faced by the youth, the November issue and thus, the subsequent cover story was birthed.
“From a young age, I couldn’t help but notice the education inequality around me. When I visited my father’s village, I noticed that only a small fraction of children attended school, and an even smaller fraction went to college. When I walked past the slums to catch my school bus, I could not help but feel that while I was bestowed the privilege to get an education, the children who worked at the morning Dhaba were forced to abandon their dreams to support their families. The helplessness I felt was suffocating. So, when the pandemic changed the world last year, I decided to transform my helplessness into action. In the Summer of 2020, The Elpis Organization was born. Through the non-profit that I and my sister co-founded, we aimed to tackle the education inequality in West Bengal and empower the low-income and underprivileged students through grassroots initiatives, articles, workshops, academic competitions, and more. We launched the “Gyan Er Alo” Initiative to teach Science, Math, and English online to 50+ underprivileged students in a rural school. We have held 7+ Academic Workshops and Competitions for over 2000+ students and donated Rs 10,000 worth of textbooks to low-income college students in Kolkata. Throughout this journey, I have been overwhelmed by the support I have received. The eagerness with which my friends volunteered and the encouragement my parents provided me on the nights when I kept calling potential sponsors made me determined to kindle the spark of change. I aspire to join UNICEF in the future to help underprivileged children around the world get an education and live a better life. After all, I believe that our success should serve the people who made us who we are- our community. My next goal is to make The Elpis Organization international and break many more boundaries of education inequality worldwide. Hope can, and will, heal the world.”
-Maneeza Khan, 15 years
“I have always loved animals. Be it wild or domestic, I’ve always loved them. As a kid, I often used to wonder, why some people trouble animals and hurt them. Once I started to understand that animals are tortured in our world, I wanted to do something for their safety. I started this Pet Safety Club in our school to protect the animals which are hurt or tortured. I do plan to stick to my word for the welfare of voiceless lives. I did get a lot of support from my parents, family, and friends. In fact, I’d say that my mom was the one who actually told me about how human beings are making animals’ lives miserable and that they need to be protected. When I first started out my club, there were a lot of critics who wanted to see me fail. The support of my loved ones helped me do the right thing. A lot of my friends, classmates, and relatives are part of this club and their contribution is exceptional and remarkable. I would take this opportunity to thank them all. Well, I used to be ill, to be honest, but I am totally fine right now. I was worried by the negative comments that the people made. I also used to overthink a lot about this club which I have started. I had many sleepless nights and this led to eating disorders. Then I indulged in yoga and exercise. I started listening to music as much as possible. It changed my mood, kept me occupied and happy. Then I did not pay much attention to peoples’ negative comments and learnt that there are much bigger things to focus on. I did not need any professional therapy and I wasn’t depressed. I would want this world to be a much better place for animals and birds. A place where even they can live freely, without any fear. This doesn’t take much for this to happen. Just have a loving and caring heart. This planet belongs to them as much as it belongs to us. One thing I would like to highlight is that animals don’t attack us unless they feel threatened. So, we need to make ourselves more sensitive towards them. A world where animals and humans live in harmony is possible just by having a little love.”
Lavanya, 14 years
“I think I am in the most confusing phase of my life. Everything seems to be changing, my friends, my ambitions, myself even. I feel like I’m being thrown off a cliff with no warning or preparation. I’ve always wanted to have a career where I could help other people, while also pursuing my passions. I’ll be graduating from school in a year or so and I know my path will reach a crossroads. Right now, I’m torn between my interests, it’s like being pulled apart in different directions. I want to study art as much as I want to write. I want to pursue my academics as much as I want to help others. So, whenever I think about my future, all I feel is uncertainty – it is exciting but also frightening. What if I never find my purpose? What if I do dream, only to settle for something less later? I’m afraid I don’t have the answers to these questions right now but I have my friends and family -wonderful people in my life I can rely on for guidance and support. But this has also become a thing I worry about. What if I lose all these friends when I go to college? Even though there’s always this sense of dread and anticipation when I think about the changes and decisions I would one day have to face, deep down I also know I’ll be okay. I still am no closer to finding out the answers to my questions but something tells me to remember all that is happening now because this would turn out to be the most defining part of my life. I have learned to put faith in myself, and the knowledge that I’ll be fine echoes with certainty in my heart.”
-Priyangha Muthukumaran, 15 years
“When I was small, I was inspired by my mom to become a nurse as she used to tell me about her day at work and how she would talk and comfort the patients. So, I chose the path of a nurse and I decided to follow it, no matter what. Providing service for my society is my real goal. I have strong support from my family and they are helping me reach my destination. I am battling with my mental illness as well, while all of this unfurls. The change I would like to see in society is that everyone gives students a chance to see what they are capable of. A creative approach will ensure that the students grow, holistically, into a more authentic version of themselves.
– Allyssa Biju, 16 years
“As a kid, I’ve been a very curious person towards nature and environment. I tried to initiate my contribution in the past few months for social welfare while the pandemic was reaching heights. I received a message from a friend talking about a person who lives in my city and needed an oxygen cylinder. On sharing this information around my circle, I managed to get it available within some hours. This was the turning point, in retrospect. I didn’t have a team so I planned everything individually and created a Covid resources helpline page on Instagram and Twitter. Within two weeks I got a chance to serve about 500+ people who were in need just by working on my page online. I operated mostly in Indore and Delhi. I’m currently looking forward to contributing to nature and society by starting a non-profit organisation. Currently fueled by the need to help people, I think this is something that can really give direction and form to my life.
-Jatin Sharma, 16 years
“As a kid, I used to be really shy and kind of introverted. But on the contrary, I was a girl with dreams! The only purpose of my life was reading and writing. Books were my second home, my happy place. I wish to pursue English honours as I grow old. I’ve been supported by all my friends and family. I started writing blogs, books on the internet and also, I run a successful Instagram writing account related to my writings. Over these years, I have noticed that there is a lack of space and platform for the youth to express their sentiments. I hope that one day, processing our emotions and talking about them is encouraged instead of the societal stigma that makes us believe that showcasing our emotions is a token of weakness. “
-Sneha Mishra, 16 years
“ On being asked about my aspirations and what changes I’d like to see in the society and the hurdles I’ve faced, all I could think of is better access to mental health care. I have anorexia, a type of eating disorder. Society still hasn’t normalized people being fat. Why? A lot of people suffer from anorexia, more than you might think honestly and it’s not good. People should start taking mental illnesses seriously as you never know what someone is going through. I’d like to live in a society that advocates body positivity and sheds light on mental health disorders. I feel access to medical aid and therapy should be easier. My ambition is to achieve something in football. I’m pretty good at it. I have to improve myself on that. Although I have very little support from my parents, the people I’ve met online and my sibling makes up for it.
-Pranav, 15 years