Rural Youth leading initiatives to bring change in community has become a regular phenomenon.
Over the past two years youth in Chilahati Upazila (local administrative unit) has prevented over 14 child marriages through dialogue with the local government officials, religious leaders and community members. Together with over 150 Reflection Circle members, they were also successfully lobbied for the provision of government land for the most vulnerable households.
In Chilahati, ActionAid supports one youth group in working closely with the partner organisation, Udayankur Seba Sangstha (USS), in taking forward initiatives related to local governance and land rights. Youth from the group have representatives at the Reflection-Action Circles or community groups where they are actively engaged focusing on community development.
In March 2014, a female member of the community group raised concern over the loan disbursement scheme of a State Bank’s local branch and a non-governmental organisation’s programme to support hardcore poor households. The situation was such that a fraudulent scheme was operating which involved hardcore poor households being targeted for signing on to loan programmes for which they did not submit applications. Basically others were benefiting from the loans scheme and the signees receiving a mere 3% based on the provision of inaccurate information.
Following the receipt of this news, the youth group members mobilised to seek additional information. Basically through their proactive information research, documentation, linking with government, media and others – they were able to bring to the attention of the national media the fraudulent scheme. Shadi, representing the Youth Group stated “We get very disappointed whenever we get to know any incidents of injustice in our community. We have a moral responsibility to not take these incidents for granted and to work together to bring such cases to light. With regards to the recent case, we wanted to be able to support the victims who otherwise would have been struggling to pay back large amounts of money”.
We got the courage to fight against the injustice we faced because we had the Youth group members who supported us and stood beside us during this entire process” noted one of the female victims of the loan scheme. While the over one hundred victims still need the official documentation that exempts them from the loan repayment plan, the support of the youth group members in lodging complaints, regular follow up and ensuring lobbying is undertaken at various levels provides the much needed hope and encouragement for the community.