Offering a platform for the socially responsible youth

Divya Mangwani   |   Pune


Vol 0 | Issue 0

A bunch of modern day youth engrossed in discussion is a common thing. But when they deliberate on social issues then it makes one take a second look at them. Again if they are seen walking the talk, one takes serious note of them. One such group of youth that has endeared itself to many people in Pune through campaigns aimed at social change, is the volunteers of CYDA (Centre for Youth Development and Activities), founded by Mathew Mattam.

CYDA offers a platform to young activists to talk about their rights and problems. So dispelling the myth of the ‘idle youth’, many youngsters in Pune have become volunteers to give expression to their social concerns. It has helped many who wanted to change the society for the better but didn’t know how to go about it.

Inspired by Martin Luther King’s words ‘be the change you want to see in society’, Mattam started the organisation that is for the youth, by the youth and of the youth. He says, “I realised that while making youth socially responsible, they themselves are suffering a lot personally. There are very few organisations dealing with the personal issues and rights of young people.”

Pune’s agents of change in full force

 A former youth activist himself, he feels that the country does not invest enough in developing the skills of the youth. He started the organisation in 1999 to enable young people to have a platform for expression and development. Matthew wanted to change the mindsets of the stereotypical rich youngsters and sensitize them towards socio-economic, political and cultural issues within their own country and elsewhere. His other aim was to provide support skills to the poor youth. With this in mind, he scouted for volunteers from 16 to 24 years of age and created the organisation, which has been running successfully for eleven years.

Swati Kaushal, a young volunteer for Youth4Change, a youth development programme of the CYDA, was an impressionable 17-year old student when she joined. CYDA, she claims, has helped broaden her perspectives and has made her a different person. She says, “I was aware of the views I was brought up with; but when I joined CYDA, it helped me see things differently. There are people of different cultures, religions, socio-economic backgrounds, ages, and sexual orientations, who have such diverse outlooks, all taking part in the discussions.” Swati explains it is these differences that help them work together and plan for the causes they care about and discuss.

Youth4Change is CYDA’s most popular programme which brings volunteers such as Swati and other college students together. According to Mattam, the concept of the programme is to involve, interact and initiate. It is a space for young people to socialize and interact with their peers. Apart from that, CYDA works in sectors like health, education and governance. It also has other programmes such as TARANG, Stepping Stones, conferences and internships to get the youth involved. Some of the issues discussed include climate change, disaster management, and human rights.

Volunteers meet once a week and contribute their time and opinion. They decide on a cause that needs attention and then visualise getting their message across to the people. Once they are convinced they will make a change for the better with their action, they go about accomplishing it. Dipsikha Majumdar, the Director of Youth Programmes emphasises, “From inception to execution, it’s all youth based. Through dialogues, we are preparing them for tomorrow.”

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