Nagendra speaks haltingly but with clarity and passion about the work of a self-organised children’s club in the Janaki rural municipality of Banke District in Western Nepal.
The chair of the group, Nagendra has been able to study up to Year 5, but that’s as far as the local school goes. The condition of the roads make it impossible for him to make the long, daily journey to and from the high school that is several kilometres distant.
Yet, he is already a community leader. Inspired by the activity of local women’s groups that had been formed and supported by Milap, one of INF Australia’s local partner organisations, Nagendra and other children asked for support and training to establish their own group to tackle some of the issues facing children in this poor community.
The group meets monthly, with the twenty-five members whose ages range from five to seventeen. They are responsible for facilitating the meetings, and recording and implementing their decisions, as well as making a small, regular contribution towards the group’s work. Basically, yes, they use their pocket money for social change.
Passionate to improve their community and support children who are poor and marginalised, they have planted trees for shade in the school grounds. They regularly develop and perform street dramas to raise awareness about drugs and alcohol, the rights of people with disabilities and child and adolescent health issues.
They are unafraid to work with and challenge their parents, and even local authorities, who have provided support to install street lights to improve safety in their neighbourhood, purchase sports equipment, and support students from poor families with the cost of their schooling. Recognising the significance of their work, the local government regularly invites the children’s club members to training on issues that affect their communities.
Nagendra and his peers are present and future leaders in their families and communities. Please pray for them. And consider how you can help nurture leaders like Nagendra in Nepal and in your own community.