Building Bridges: Y4G Fellowship Impact
Youth for Governance Fellowship's Impact on Community Transformation
The Youth for Governance Fellowship, a nine-month program conducted by GRAAM in collaboration with PRIA and HSF in the heritage city of Mysore, is dedicated to the comprehensive capacity building of youth. This program addresses critical aspects such as leadership, community engagement, interpersonal skills, and governance. The selected cohort of 25 individuals from Mysuru not only undergoes a structured training curriculum but also actively contributes to civic development through a social action project targeting local challenges. From the program's inception, community engagement stands as a core element, with training modules strategically designed to maintain a steadfast focus on grassroots development. As the Youth for Governance Fellowship cohort embarked on their social action project, centered on issues directly impacting grassroots communities, the significance of community engagement was further emphasized. This initiative of the social action project reflects a commitment to not only impart knowledge and skills but also to directly address civic challenges, demonstrating the program's dedication to fostering impactful change at the community level.
One team of youth for governance fellows from the current cohort has dedicated their efforts to understanding and assessing the mental health and health seeking behavior of individuals living in urban slum settlements in the fringes of the city. The interactions of the team of fellows with community members living in urban slum dwellings, gave a whole new perspective on how people who have been sidelined by the progress of urbanization, carry on with their lives. They hoped that the administration of the city would help them have a better life, with better and affordable care facilities.
Yet another Team of Youth for governance fellows from the current cohort, has dedicated their efforts to understanding the lives of people with disabilities in the city of Mysore. This study delves into the various services provided by the administration to improve their living conditions. In one such interaction with community members who were people with disabilities, it was mentioned that even health care professionals who are designated to help them lack sensitivity and empathy resulting in the disabled community members being discriminated against. In fact, throughout the interaction, the community members were hopeful that the ‘officials’ who have come to interact with them, would be helping them by solving their problems, and thereby helping them to lead better lives.
On similar lines, yet another team of Youth for Governance fellows, from the current cohort has dedicated their efforts to understand the levels and tones of civic participation among community members living in urban, semi urban and rural areas of the city of Mysore. Here too the interactions with the community members gave totally new perspectives on civic and social participation. Yet again the community members through their interactions expressed hope to have better living conditions.
The narratives emerging from these diverse initiatives emphasize the profound impact of community engagement. They reveal not only the challenges faced but also the optimism and expectation harbored by community members. Throughout these interactions, a recurring theme emerges—a hope for resolution and improvement. The community members express the anticipation that the insights gathered by the Youth for Governance Fellows will translate into tangible solutions, addressing their problems and contributing to enhanced quality of life.
In essence, this reflection on the fellowship's endeavors reinforces the potency of engaging with communities at the grassroots level. The perspectives gained are not only diverse but also essential in shaping effective governance strategies. The fieldwork conducted by the youth for governance fellows serves as a compelling testament to the transformative power of meaningful interactions with community members, encapsulating the essence of understanding, empathy, and collaboration in building a better and more inclusive society. This perspective, emerging directly from the field, exemplifies the potency of such interactions in fostering positive change and ensuring a brighter future for all.