Meet Binju Baral, one of our volunteers in Nepal. This is the first blog in a new series of Q&As with young people who volunteer with Restless Development by Douglas Imaralu, Partnerships and Communications Fellow at Restless Development USA
What is meaningful youth engagement?
Perhaps that’s a riddle for the youth sector. But when I asked a young volunteer what young people need, her answer was definitive: “motivation, good mentorship, opportunities, positive thinking, energy, and, mostly, a platform where they can experiment, experience, and learn.”
Does that ring a bell?
As a part of a new series of Q&As, young people who volunteer at Restless Development’s Country Programs across Africa and Asia, will be sharing insights about volunteering, their work with young people and in communities and the impact it has. Below are insights from 23-year old Binju Baral, a student of social work and a volunteer of Restless Development Nepal. Binju has worked on various campaigns focused on relevant issues like sanitation, human rights, road safety, human trafficking, reproductive and sexual health, and domestic violence.
Why did you volunteer for Restless Development? What groups have you worked with?
Binju: Volunteering is an interesting experience. I enjoyed every single minute during my time volunteering at Restless Development. I signed up as a Restless Volunteer because they give you a blank sheet of paper and color pencils to make your kind of design and embrace it – it’s like getting experience the way you want it. Since I became a volunteer my perception towards development has changed.
I worked with youth age group 12- 25, made up of equal number of girls and boys – actually, the number of girls was a little more. I worked on girls-related issues.
What excites you most about your work with young people?
Binju: My work was very flexible and easy because I was engaged with people of the same age group. So, peer education was more meaningful. However, travelling is the most exciting thing about volunteering in Restless Development and also the very friendly and flexible work environment.
In what areas have you seen a change since you started volunteering?
Binju: Since I started volunteering I have experienced personal development, firstly. And second thing is my level of understanding of how projects are run in the development sector. I think volunteering is the best way to start a career.
How do you feel about young people leading development?
Binju: I feel very good about young people leading development. Volunteering for Restless
Development taught me “Young people can, young people do “. I am very proud to be a young person and other young people like me should be engaging more in the development sector. Young people are creative and full of ideas – and most importantly the energy and enthusiasm of young people is highly productive.
What does youth-led development mean to you?
Binju: Youth-led development means a situation where development projects are designed by young people for the betterment of other young people all over the country, or, maybe, globally.
What is the most important things young people need? How can we engage young people more effectively?
Binju: Young people need motivation, good mentoring, opportunities, positive thinking, energy, and, mostly, a platform where they can experiment, experience, and learn.
We can engage young people more effectively by creating more and more opportunities for them. Their personal development should be a must. Young people should be provided with education and awareness on various rights and how they can exercise it. Young people can be engaged in various ways, we just need to get them interested in working together with positivity.
How do you involve community leaders in your work with young people?
Binju: Community leaders in my placement were mostly engaged in politics so it was not really easy dealing with them. First few weeks I tried to find out their perception towards young people, working and learning at a same time. I spend my time listening to community leaders and collecting information about the community. I also get involved in community events organized by community leaders so that they would trust me whenever I invite them to my event. Rapport building techniques like going to their houses, taking evening walks, having snacks in their house, inviting leaders as chief guest at our events etc. were highly useful to engage with community leaders.
In terms of engaging young people, list three things you would do differently?
Binju: If I ever get the chance, I would like to engage young people in various tasks, like art, because creativity is an attractive way to get young people together. Another thing I would do differently is: let young people speak their minds and come up with every crazy idea possible. This would create comfortable relationship between young people and it would be easy for me to make a good team to implement events or any kind of program. Last thing I would do differently is provide them with a platform where they can lead by themselves and gain confidence and leadership ability. This would be more effective because if young people experience the situation by themselves they understand it in a better way.
What do young people say to you about your work? What’s next, after volunteering?
Binju: Young people like me say I’m in the right sector because of my personality – the way I think, the way I work – matches the mentality needed to work in the development sector. Also I have a Bachelor’s degree in arts and social work. They all appreciate my work and that gives me energy.
The passion to work with young people inspired me to work with Restless Development as a volunteer. After volunteering, my next target is to be a professional.
Note: This piece first appeared on www.wearerestless.org, where young voices share issues that matter to them.