Katya Schwab profiles the young volunteers documenting their work, and lives, in Nepal.
“It is very hard to bring certain change immediately… Through my writing I can inspire people that if you want to make change, you can.”
Ashim is one of four Nepali Youth Reporters who are part of Restless Development Nepal’s ICS program. He sat across the table at the Youth Reporter introductory training, smiling as he discussed his hopes and excitement at starting his new role, “I am here in ICS to gain experience. I always dreamed of working with people, to get involved in people’s sentiments and I thought ICS makes it possible.”
Stories of Change and Progress: Why Youth Reporters Matter
The Youth Reporter role places young people at the forefront of Restless Development’s communications, supporting them as correspondents on the ground. They cover stories from the community, share the reality of life as a volunteer, raise awareness of youth-led development efforts, and report on the additional issues important to them.
To support their work, Youth Reporters receive training covering important aspects of ethical storytelling, identifying and telling a good story, and technical skills in writing and photography. ICS team leaders and Restless Development staff also provide guidance as the reporters identify stories and develop their publications. Experience with reporting and multi-media varies across the team and they are encouraged to share knowledge and skills.
Who are the new ICS Youth Reporters?
The four youth reporters, Ashim, Bhumika, Soni, and Ujjwal, each bring a unique background, interest, and skill set to the role. They are part of a larger team of 26 ICS volunteers from Nepal who currently support education and community development projects in nine placements across the country. For ten weeks, they will live, work and cover stories from their placement communities. They see working as Youth Reporters as an opportunity to tell important stories of challenge, change, and hope as well as develop their own skills. At the training, they each shared their enthusiasm for the learning opportunity and what the role means to them.
Ashim’s school background is in science, but he is considering switching his focus to social work or public health. He has always dreamed of working with people, connecting with their hopes, offering encouragement and actively helping to address challenges in their community. “You can make change,” he said, sharing the message he hopes his writing convey, “If you find something wrong, you can fight against it. You can take help from anybody. You do not need to be suffering or to be lagging behind the society.”
He sees ICS as an opportunity to contribute and learn more about which direction he wants to take his career. Although he is fond of writing and it is one of his hobbies, this will be his first experience working as a reporter. He shared that he is excited to “have good communication skills with people which I don’t know, which are from various backgrounds, from different communities, from different areas.”
Bhumika is a student of social work and an aspiring psychologist. As a Youth Reporter, she wants to tell accounts from the community, “stories about their life, about what’s going on in their life and what leads them to actually change their life from one field or one step to another.”
Her interest in multimedia inspired her to apply for a role as a Youth Reporter. “I am looking forward to build up my confidence and enhancement of my personal growth,” Bhumika said. She is looking forward to learning about and reporting through vlogs and video stories and emphasised her desire to become more comfortable speaking in public.
Sony has been interested in working in media since childhood, but her background in social work has provided limited experience in telling the stories of people who she works with closely. She is drawn to photography and writing stories that capture reality. She wants to report on problems related to education and livelihoods, and work to change perceptions about menstruation.
“I think from ICS I can develop myself, my confidence…after ICS there are lots of things I can do effectively,” Sony said. When the opportunity to be a youth reporter came up, she seized it, eager to gain more experience with public speaking and learn more about media and reporting.
Ujjwal majored in journalism and looks forward to utilising his affinity for listening and observation to communicate with people and bring forth stories about their lives. In particular, he wants to tell stories about the changes that people are working to bring about in their lives and society, the challenges they face, and how they work to overcome them. He wants to cover how previous ICS cycles have made an impact on the lives of students and families in these communities.
For Ujjwal, ICS is an opportunity to develop a range of valuable skills and experience. “I want to either teach or work in a newspaper after this, so it’s helpful in both ways,” Ujjwal said. His plan is to use the experience he is gaining by engaging with students and running interactive classes if he decides to become a teacher. He also wants to hone his communication skills, both to better understand society and to fine tune his writing style to fit the different kinds of stories he covers.
Trainee to Teacher
Their training complete, Ashim, Bhumika, Sony, and Ujjwal have now stepped into their roles as Youth Reporters in their host communities. In addition to sharing stories from the community, they are also leading educational sessions and community events. They’re covering wide-ranging topics and activities that include sessions on sexual and reproductive health, livelihoods and career skills trainings, and hosting community events such as trash-clean-ups to raise environmental awareness.
Katya Schwab works with the Communications and Partnerships team at Restless Development Nepal and is completing a Master’s degree in Humanitarian Action. Growing up in the Colorado mountains, she carries a love of outdoor spaces and seeing how different cultures and people care for and connect to the land around them. When not working, she can often be found exploring city streets and mountain trails with a camera and sketchbook at hand.