YOUTH DEVELOPMENT

In the rural villages and urban slums where Seva Mandir works, young adults have few organized opportunities or spaces to socialize, get involved in activities, receive job training, or participate in their community. Lack of information also poses severe sexual health risks: a full 50% of adolescents have never heard of HIV/AIDS. Young people are also key to breaking - or reproducing - grossly inequitable gender norms, such as the 70% rate of child marriage in Udaipur district. To address these challenges, Seva Mandir runs 21 youth centers that mobilize young people, link to livelihood opportunities, and serve as hubs for sexual health & gender training.

YOUTH CENTERS

Need

Young people in rural villages and urban slums do not have spaces to meaningfully interact or develop their interests, and often feel disengaged from their communities. Nearly 30% of village adolescents migrate, compounding their rootlessness.

Seva Mandir’s Response

Seva Mandir runs 21 Youth Centers that enroll more than 2,000 rural and urban youth every year. The Youth Centers are each led by 2 local youth mobilizers - one boy and one girl - who organize educational, cultural and sports activities. The centers also serve as hubs for livelihood trainings offered by outside organizations.

Seva Mandir runs 21 Youth Centers that enroll more than 2,000 young people every year. The centers are led by 2 local youth mobilizers - one boy and one girl - who organize educational, cultural and sports activities. In addition to being hubs for livelihood trainings and gender and sexual health trainings, the centers have also been extremely successful in motivating young people to tackle their community’s problems. A good example is “Learn Without Fear,” a campaign to end corporal punishment in government schools, which reached over 400 students and 300 parents associated with all Youth Centers. Another initiative, undertaken by the youth of Malaria village, persuaded 20 child drop-outs to enroll in Open School, a government distance learning program that allows students an alternative route to earn diplomas.

SEXUAL HEALTH & GENDER

Need

A study conducted in 2011-12 by Seva Mandir revealed that 50% of adolescents in villages had never heard of HIV/AIDS, 66% were unaware of STDs, and almost none had correct knowledge of safe sexual practices. Young adults also have a crucial role to play in challenging discriminatory and often violent gender norms. Nearly 70% of girls in the region marry below the age of 18, female feticide has contributed to a sex ratio of just 892 girls per 1000 boys, and only 20% of women are literate.

Seva Mandir’s Response

Sexual health and gender camps are run for Youth Center leaders and other committed members, who in turn become master trainers for the village youth group and assistants during training at the village level. Last year, 294 young people - 168 girls and 126 boys - participated. The sexual health curriculum includes sessions on HIV/AIDS, STDs, contraceptives, and changes in the body during adolescence, while the gender curriculum focuses on violence against women, socialization, and building healthy relationships.

LIVELIHOODS

Need

Young people in remote villages have few opportunities to explore their interests, gain employable skills, and connect to internships and jobs.

Seva Mandir’s Response

In 2012-13, Seva Mandir’s chain of Youth Centers sent 265 youth to livelihood training in vocations ranging from mobile phone repairing to tailoring to hotel management. The centers gather and publicize training schedules, and center leaders are often critical enablers who help young people follow through on enrolling, or persuade parents to allow their children - especially girls - to travel out of their village. The centers work closely with prominent Udaipur-based vocational institutions, such as Vidya Bhawan Polytechnic College and the Skill Training, Employability and Placement Academy at Ajeevika Bureau, and in the past have sent young people all over the country on prestigious fellowships such as Video Volunteers and the Pravah Fellowship. Follow-up is ongoing to assess how many find jobs in their field of training.

Many of Seva Mandir’s social enterprises also employ young people directly, and its self-help groups support income generating initiatives for hundreds of young women.

  • Aspirations In Action (video)
  • Child Savings Club (blog)