I think as a facilitator I am stirred when I see these young people unfolding a new future for our country and our constitution. We often don’t talk about issues that bother us and the rights that our constitution provides us. But I believe young people like Farheen are fearless. Be A Jagrik not only helps them raise questions but also empowers the youth to find the the possibilities around those questions.
Growing up in a village and then in a small neighbourhood of Lucknow, I never thought that I would be ever able to go beyond the usual. I mostly stayed at home, never talked to strangers, let alone imagine that I would be doing tasks to understand our constitution better. I first came to know about the Be A Jagrik initiative during a mobilisation adda organised by Vasudev sir. And it just clicked off for me. 28 young people just like me, coming to the forefront of the unknown for the first time. And my first task helped me re-define that narrative.
As part of our task we had to find out a group of people who did not have access to a clean, continuous supply of water and give them access to it for at least a week. We went from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, asking people about their woes. I was very afraid. My parents and neighbours already thought that I was wasting time. People were hesitant to talk about their issues. I was terrified because I had never talked to strangers. But, with persistence, people started talking and we came across the residents of Teji Kheda. Here, people had to walk kilometers to collect water and used a makeshift trolley to bring water for one’s household in buckets. We knew what we had to do.
My colony had a submersible pump line that supplied us water. Me and 3 other Jagriks – Aaliyah, Saba, and Sabia – used to fill buckets of water and take it to the households. We helped more than 10 households. They were initially hesitant, but our persistence gave way to their admiration. I was so happy. I had never thought that my small act could bring happiness and a new lease of life to so many people.
My parents don’t rebuke me anymore. They don’t specifically agree with me but accept the change these tasks have had on me. We are still in touch with those households in Teji Kheda. I know we might have been a respite for just a week, but they still adore us. We have promised that whenever they need our help, we would be there.
When I saw the work of Farheen and her co-Jagriks, I was in awe to say the least. As a facilitator, you tend to go out of your way to support the youth, especially when this is the first time when they are undertaking interactions of such nature. But, the enthusiasm of Farheen and other Jagriks was on a different tangent. The moment we gave them the task, they started their research, did all the work, and completely owned it. There never was a moment when we had to go out of our way to help them out.
This might have been that new door that Be A Jagrik opened for the girls, a door that was previously not discovered due to various social reasons. It is fascinating to see how this initiative can open doors for young people to take social actions by discovering, re-discovering, and unearthing their precocious capabilities, hidden by the tide of social circumstances.
Farheen Bano is 18 year old from Lucknow who is a First Year student of B.Sc – Biology. Her mentor Vasudev Bajpai, founder of Lucknow based social impact organisation De Haath Society, introduced her to Be a Jagrik, a public initiative run by Commutiny – The Youth Collective. Moving from and living in multiple cities, Vasudev completed his Bachelors in Social Work and eventually settled in Lucknow. The city is what inspired the organisation to work with and for various communities in Lucknow. The primary, flagship project of the organisation – Project Chirag – is with the Zardozi artisans in Lucknow and works for their economic empowerment, livelihood creation and amping up health services
Farheen participated as a Jagrik from De Haath Society and did numerous tasks to understand the deep impact our constitution has on the fabric of the nation. As evident in the story, Farheen and her friends are very keen to support and work for causes that change the lives of others, for good.