"Jha government nhi
pohunchti vha YEF pohunch jata hai"
Nishikant was in the second year of his mechanical engineering, while in Odisha when he joined Youth empowerment organization as a volunteer. Initially, working with YEF was like any other internship for him where he had to spend three months anyhow but now that he has completed his volunteer span at the YEF, he almost feels like a family where everyone was very inclusive, and this he didn't realize until it was time for him to say goodbye to the volunteer team. Now he works part-time in the operational team of the YEF, he exclaims how bumpy and enlightening the journey has been for him so far.
YEF allowed him to witness how the unrelentingly draconian and dark face the reality has. He talks about how the problems are prevalent everywhere and are particularly stark in rural and underprivileged areas. Moreover, how the measures taken by the government are not trickling down to the ground, hence YEF which is striving hard to reach remote areas is a bane in real sense.
Here is more from the interview...
Nishikant likes reading books and playing football
So Nishikant having faced the society closely, what according to you is society?
(laughs) madam... now, what should I say, yeah... it's good but maám. YES! one thing I'd like to share maám I have served many people. so, when Abhinav sir told me that it was necessary for us to get either letter of appreciation from government or at least media coverage, everyone who said I was a brother to them turned their back when the time came. Even then we somehow managed to get our work getting mentioned at the Global times, I was happy.
So Nishikant when you first were informed about your selection to be a volunteer at YEF what did you expected the kind of work you'd get to do on a day-to-day basis?
Day to day what basically was that the task that they used to give me was to upload content on Instagram handle and list the WhatsApp numbers of needy laborers. Coming to the expectation part, it was obvious that... yes, I would be required to do something but never knew that distributing ration would also constitute a part of the job.
Did you distribute ration too?
yes maám, I did. so far, I've distributed to about 80plus people... ya
As you know YEF works largely towards education and helps poor and needy families, right? so having worked with this organization what do you think is the role of education in society?
Maám today education matters a lot. If you're not educated... or well qualified, you'll face the heat only and rejections, also nothing will come to you.
"paisa dene se kisi ka career banta hain toh ye bilkul shi hai maám," says Nishikant
Do you think people understand this?
Madam as a matter of fact people from high and middle class understands this but poor... for instance in my case a family in UP did not let their eldest son study whatsoever but rather got him to do farming. Even when I asked the boy why he doesn't go to school and studies he simply brushed it aside by saying he doesn't want to learn; he has no liking for it(puff). You see for yourself what is the condition.
Then in such a case when neither the family nor the boy himself is willing to study then what would you as a volunteer, have done to convince then to study and see its importance?
I would have aah… shown him the importance of it ‘would have done analysis or.... it's like ... you see madam that if offered support they would've definitely consented to go for education. I mean if someone comes ahead and says "you go study and in return, I will give you money" then what is the reason left for the family and the boy to say no to studies.
you think it is right to bribe him to study?
Bilkul agar kisi ka future ban jaye toh paise dekar padhyi karwaane main koi dikkat hi nhi hai
That is interesting
Moving forward, Nishikant it’s been a while since you started working for YEF, do feel that people who are privileged enough, realize the importance of social welfare and come forward to help less fortunate?
No ma'am that is just not what happens. I worked for the needy and posted so much about them on social media. Everybody was up for saying "thank you thank you" but no one, not even a single soul bothered to step out and if not much at least help the poor who is near them, no one did.
Accha Nishikant going back to what I asked you earlier about those who are not willing to study, what do you think the government should have done or do to change their minds?
aah... what can I say...
Do you feel the measures the government takes reach these people?
No madam they do not. these bicholiyes or what do call them aah... brokers yes broker they eat all the things provided for the needy.
How do brokers figure out in the education system?
Maám, for instance, the Sarpanch of the village he gets every fund and marks a task done if done but nowadays what happens is you need to have good relations with these in order to get funds. If you are on friendly terms with these middleman then it's okay but if not then forget about your funds.
Now coming to YEF, why did you decide to work for it?
(laughs) maám decide... it’s a funny story. When I got selected for YEF I did not know that it is such big as it is. But once I got selected, I did Ph.D. on it. To say that I engulfed whatever its official website offered me to read.
What are its plus points?
Nobody knew me before I entered YEF but once I started working on rural or ground level everybody started knowing me and the blessing one receives is of pleasure of almost unbelievable level.
How did people use to react when you offered them the YEF help kit?
it was really a humbling experience; people were shocked and would cry bitterly seeing them I created a slogan maám "jahan government nhi jata vha YEF jata hai".
That is really nice
and do you feel that the commitment or the vision of making youth self-reliant that YEF keeps on reiterating is realized? I mean as a volunteer of YEF how much self-reliant do you feel?
whatever self-reliant that I am today is because of YEF. You see maám when you go to an employer having already worked with YEF, the employer sees that this person has done fieldwork then yes, he would be able to face challenges and it also helps you build your resume.
What were the protocols you were supposed to follow as a field worker? What all places you have visited and what work you've done?
I have helped at lease twenty-plus workers in Govingpadah. There were handicapped beggars too, so I used to provide them ration like 5 kgs of rice, 2kgs of salt, sugar masks in bulk, sanitizer. we were given funds after our verification and we were supposed to issue the ration to the beneficiary after his/her verification. What a volunteer needs to do is that you upload the google form then it goes to the operational team and gets verified and at last either the volunteer or the verification team itself serves the help.
And they explain this process to every volunteer carefully?
Yes, ma'am but sometimes someone happens to get lost on few points and ends up committing mistakes.
Is there a place for mistakes in YEF?
I really do not know madam as I never committed the mistake
But it might have happened with you that a difficult situation came, and you were forced to face it?
Yes, ma’am it happened with me once. the thing was I usually used to take all precautions while stepping out like wearing masks and gloves, but that day crowd of hungry people came rushing to me and started demanding masks and food. I am not stereotyping but I feared that I might catch Corona. But then I somehow asked everyone to step a little further back. I said step back and maintain social distance otherwise I will not write your name.
and they stepped back?
yes, I mean they got scared.
This stampede even led to double allotment sometimes. What happened, a man that I already issued ration to get his wife's name listed too and was about to receive it again but wo kehte hain na "Paddose ki Najar aapke ghar main hi rehti hai" isne mujhe bccha Liya, his neighbor told me that he has already received one. also, I felt ki ek dum inke muh se niwakla cheen liya maine.
Apko toh ekdum hero wali feeling aayi hogi?
Nishikant this is your last question, what qualities do you think that a volunteer needs to inculcate?
A will to work hard and a little knowledge of the native language. I know odia and that helped me a lot
What according to you is necessary to maintain balance in society?
I think employment because lockdown has given a big jerk to the poor people. their daily livelihood is disrupted and has no other means to sustain themselves.
Finally, what positive thought or something you would like to say to everyone?
Maám mera toh ek hi slogan hai "jhaa government nhi pohochti whan YEF pohonchtta hai.