DHARAN, Jan 7: Established in 2006 and formally registered with the Government of Nepal in 2008, Yuva Sanjal (Youth Network) has been working for the benefit of the youth in Dharan for the past six years and still going strong. In its small office located in the slum area of Dharan-3 with four computers and roughly a sitting space for six people, the Yuva Sanjal also operates as a Youth Information Center for the locals and everyone else who is looking for information.
“When we started this office, we had just two computers and an office that was prone to landslide. But things have changed with all of us lobbying for better services and some support from the state,” shares 24-year-old Biswo Kala Rai, President of the Youth Network.
Two years ago, the young group requested the Municipality in Dharan to build a wall to protect the small building from being carried by the landslide and also to provide them some computers. It was only recently that their request was approved.
“Now we have four computers we can use,” says Rai smilingly. The four computers are used for teaching basic computer designing and other courses which the youth can use in their daily life for earning.
Pravat Jung Gurung/Republica Members of Yuva Sanjal (Youth Network) in Dharan.
“We want to give something to the young ones so that later on in their life, they can do something on their own and not depend on anyone. They are capable of learning things, they just need some pushing and a platform,” says Prakash Karki, 24, Vice President of the Center.
Along with computer training for the local youth, the center also provides personality development classes and Master of Ceremony (MC) trainings for as low as Rs 500 a month. The club also organizes picnics and competitions to attract youth to join the Center. Currently, they have around 50 members who contribute and take their time out to take the training classes.
“I think the youth of Dharan are famous around Nepal for their sense of fashion and substance abuse but that has changed over time,” opines 24-year-old Jeet Bahadur Shrestha, one of the 50 members of the Youth Network, adding that they are doing everything possible in their capacity to bring about changes in the society; for example, the Center also runs Child Learning Centers (CLCs) for school kids.
Talking on the topic of school dropout rates in Dharan, Rai states that students usually leave school because they don’t understand what’s being taught in the class and refrain from asking questions because they are shy. Hence, they are unable to complete their homework, and to escape the humiliation from the teachers, they don’t attend schools.
“Some of them leave home for school but end up working as microbus conductors or waiters in restaurants and earn Rs 100 or Rs 200 per day and they are happy,” says Rai.
To make sure that kids are able to complete their assignments, Child Learning Centers (CLCs) have been established which act like tuition classes. The members of the Network are mobilized in the CLCs.
Another Youth Club that’s been working in the field of motivating the youth to do something useful for the community and make their lives better is the Srijansheel Youth Club in Radha Chowk, Dharan. Established only nine months ago, the first project the club took up was to paint zebra crossings all over Dharan.
“Dharan has around 20 wards and there were no zebra crossings. Funding the project was very difficult for us,” shares Vishal Rai, Secretary of the Club, adding, “Everyone is Dharan is quite well-off but they all live simple lives. But if they want, they can splash Rs 10,000 on a party. However, when we went from house to house to collect some money for the Zebra Crossing Project, some of them would not even give a paisa.”
Sushil Rai, Chairman of the Club, says that the youth of Dharan, comparatively, are lazy and easygoing. But the club wants to change that.
“In just two months, we completed painting zebra crossings all over the town and that was quite an achievement for all us,” he says.
The club, located in a tuition center that Vishal runs, holds blood donation campaigns now and then and provides personality development courses, skills development and RJ trainings at low fees for the youth of Dharan.
Even with little or no support from the state and due to scarce funding, both youth hubs are still running in Dharan. Times have changed and the youth of Dharan have changed too, but this time for the better.
Raj Limbu, Vice Secretary of the Club, says, “We can’t compare ourselves with the youth of Kathmandu, because they are way ahead of us but we will definitely catch up soon.”