Q&A: “I believe young people are key to leading change”

Meet Rakesh, one of our volunteers in India. This is the second blog in a new series of Q&As with young people who volunteer with Restless Development by Douglas Imaralu, Partnerships and Communications Fellow at Restless Development USA

“If I ruled the world, I’d free all my sons,” an excerpt from a 90s rap song by American rapper Nas states. Not riches. Not wealth. But the ultimate power – freedom.

What will you do if you ruled the world?

In the latest blog series with Restless Development’s young volunteers across our country programs in Africa and Asia, I spoke to 23-year old Rakesh Kumar Gupta, a Restless Development India volunteer in Munger in the Indian State of Bihar.  He talks about the impact of their work, what volunteering means to them, and what they’d do differently.

“When I met the team, I was touched by the fact that it was a youth team leading development work.”

What made you decide to volunteer for Restless Development?

I have been passionate about social work since I was a teenager, and was looking for a platform to do something meaningful for society. I was introduced to Restless Development through my friend who was a volunteer –  my friend’s personal development really attracted and motivated me to  volunteer at Restless Development. And when I met the team, I was touched by the fact that it was a youth team leading development work.

What do you do in your volunteering, and what do you enjoy most it?

I found volunteering for Restless Development a youth friendly space. I really enjoy taking sessions and providing information to my peers.

I look after the youth resource center, where all the information related to goal areas of Restless Development are provided to young people. I also take sessions in schools under Menstrual Hygiene Management Programme. I primarily I work with boys groups and  other stakeholders.

Rakesh working on the Making Periods Normal project

Walk me through a typical day as a volunteer?

I start my day by going to the Youth Resource Center (YRC). First, I conduct a computer session, then a grammar class, and offer peer advice which is followed by cleaning the YRC, before I take a lunch break. I check the register twice a week and  go conduct MHM (Menstrual Hygiene Management) sessions in schools.

What has changed since you became a volunteer?

I have experienced massive change after I joined Restless Development, and it is growing.  I have  improved my communication skills –  now I am able to mobilize young people and I have been recognized by my family, community members, young people and other stakeholders for what I am doing. My friends have also commended my development since I started volunteering

“With continuous effort, we were able to change negative views to positive.”

Do you feel young people are more effective in engaging with their peers?

Yes. I believe young people are key group to lead change.

In our communities, we really struggled to bring the PRI members on board to support our Youth Resource Centre. But with continuous effort, we were able to change negative views to positive. This is the significant change I have seen since I started volunteering and it gives me great joy! After conducting several big events most of the important individuals in my town recognize me….I feel proud about this change.

What would you do differently, if you had a chance?

Mobile YRC! I want to have a mobile Youth Resource Center that would  be used to create awareness in rural areas. Also a sports competition. I think sports is an interesting medium to engage young people.  If I am given the chance, I would like to conduct sports competitions differently for awareness events.


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Q&A: “I believe young people are key to leading change”

by wearerestless Reading time: 3 min