“Challenge” “do you accept my challenge” “don’t you dare to challenge me”, these are a few words/sentences which we have grown up on during our high school and college days. We all somehow perform better than we normally do when someone challenges us and even more in this age we end up accepting more challenges then we do when we are grown-ups.
During my field visit in rural India as part of my Capacity Building process in a local NGO, I had the luck to interact with many different young people. What I realized during my interactions was that some groups are aggressive, perturbed in nature and few are very silent. The NGO staffs were making a lot of efforts but after a while the group got to full and the whole purpose of forming youth groups that can address their own problems in the village were failing.
In the group meeting I have realized that as a youth even I don’t like someone talking about the same thing over and over again. Also, as a youth I am sometimes aggressive and angry (though not all youth are aggressive). So we need to change the pattern of interaction with this group.
It clicked in my mind, let us try and challenge the groups with some tasks. Next morning I went to the NGO’s office and asked them to show me the documents of all groups. I made a quick scan of various groups and we separated groups by maturity, performance, age, past performance and who can deal with challenges. Then we went back to groups and during the meeting we started to challenge the youth groups by giving them small tasks which were mutually agreed on by everyone in the group and the NGO workers. The challenges had a clear timeline.
After a month I visited some of the groups to whom we had given tasks and realized that they had completed the tasks and not just for the sake of doing it: they felt proud in accepting the challenge and performing the task.
Some of the challenges which the youth groups have accepted and completed were:
- Youth groups have cleaned the premises and the walls of school buildings. Dirty things were written on the wall and the premises were filled with beedies and gutka packets ( cigarettes and tobacco chewing sachets);
- In an adolescent’s girls group only one girl was immunized with a vaccine but now all the girls in the group have taken vaccine (earlier they were very scared of the injections and not aware of its benefits);
- When members of a youth group became aware of a child marriage in the village, one youth group visited the house of the family and explained them about the future problems that child marriage has;
- There are a few other goals that the groups have achieved like enrolling young girls in the school, sending girls to higher education, youth participating in various village-level meetings and so on. This experiment has taught me that we constantly need to engage with the youth groups and we need to change our style of functioning based on the interest and capabilities. In the end I am not asking to constantly keep challenging groups, but we need to understand the group interest and requirements and have to plan accordingly. Many NGOs and the field workers make the mistake of keep explaining them about the same thing or things of the NGOs interest but tend to forget the views of the youth group.
Please note: Be very careful in assigning tasks to groups, it all depends on the maturity level of the group. So please asses the groups well before assigning the task to them.
Note: This is second in the serious of articles on my experiments during the field visits. The previous one was “My experiment: With the words “Thank You” in a village.”