Anubhuti’s annual tradition of youth leadership residential camps continued this year on 1 & 2 November 2019 with 42 selected youth leaders, supported by Mariwala Health Initiative.  Youth from Kolegaon, Bamanwada and Raahi came together in this training based on the module created by Deepa Pawar.

While the earlier camps focused on personal with socio-political leadership, this year we added the unique perspective of Mental Health Justice. As grassroot activists, youth leaders need to take care of their mental health and work on their mental empowerment – this was the idea driving the sessions. The beautiful surroundings of Deshmukh Farmhouse in Vangani, Maharashtra added to the experience.

In this 2 day camp, through games and activities they learned about personal and social identities, worked on their time management, had an open discussion on love and attraction, understood the how mob mentality can lead to violence, and to develop their strategic communication skills to be used in advocacy.

Along with learning, the group had a chance to bond with each other through pair and group activities, and also through a cultural night organised by them showcasing their various talents of poetry, singing, dancing and even theatre.

The highlight of the camp was definitely the Session on Leadership facilitated through a treasure hunt! With clues hidden across the beautiful riverside Deshmukh Farms in Karav Gaon. The final “Treasures” were the values of the constitution, The legacy of social activists like Dr. Ambedkar, Bhagat Singh and Savitribai Pule, and slogans to empower the leadership of these youth. The groups made a plan on how to use these treasures in their work in the future.

Following are some session-wise highlights:

1. Finding and Balancing my Identities – Personal, Social, Political / Given, Created

“When a girl is born the first identity put onto her is of a woman. When she grows up she is given various labels like characterless, fast.. But the identity I want to create for myself is of a social worker who changes society.” – Sayli, 17.

“Thinking and expressing about my identity was difficult, how difficult it will be to create it. I will have to work hard and smart towards my goals.” – Shifa, 17.

“My first given identity is of ‘caste’ and I want to finish that. Dalits need to create their identity other than something like ‘safai karmachari’ etc. I want to start this work with the KDMC administration, we will have to get training and take up more varied jobs at all levels.” – Akash, 18.

“People who are thrown into the competition without skills are not actually weak but are made to feel weak. How I felt today strengthens my support for reservations.” – Yash, 21.

“When group is in majority, it is possible that they take the wrong decision based on someone’s identity. Majority is not always right.” – Asmita, 16.

“Those who did not take part in the game they probably saw the problem as the group’s and not as their own. But they lost in the long run because they did not learn from the experience when they had a group to support them in solving a problem.” – Sahil, 17.

2. Time Management

“I actually did not have a time table. Akash my partner showed me that now is the time to prepare myself, that later in class 12th I will really become busy so how will I prepare for my goal? He helped me make a schedule, how to find books on google for my career goal of banking. – Manyata, 15.

3. Attraction

“Is there a limit to attraction?”

“When do we know that attraction has developed to love?”

“Girls are not things to covet or own or fight over. Similarly boys are not machines to provide and have a house or a car at such a young age.”

4. Communication Strategy as a Leader (Blindfold game)

“If we don’t know our partner, then there is no wisdom in blind or complete trust in them.” – Apeksha, 17

“Even if blindfolded, meaning without information, we should not be completely blind. We should be ready to do some ‘cheating’, no need to be so innocent that we are exploited.” – Rahim, 22.

5. Film Screening – “Sanai Chaughade” Marathi film on Gender & Sexuality

“The film’s message about rights of unwed mother was good.. But why was marriage the goal for the heroine? Why can’t she live and bring up her child on her own? – Akash, 18.

“Why could the hero not support without marriage? Will these boys here support us as friends if we became pregnant? – Ashwini , 15.

6. Feedback

“The most important learning for me was the importance of group for social change. If within a few hours we could find our ‘treasure’ in the game, imagine what treasures we can accomplish together!” 

– Swarup, 16.

“Time management, balanced self confidence, smart work, strategic communication are all very important for my goals. – Simran, 16.