Youth activism online
WE started what would have been called activism in bigger cities as fifth graders. We were proud executive officers of our very own child club; a student-led organisation aimed at fostering creativity among students, stirring a sense of responsibility and raising awareness on child right issues.
Imagine a gang of fifth graders walking around in a small town with a pad of “Rashid”, asking shop owners to donate money and requesting government officials to join our programmes as judges and chief guests.
That’s what we did. As expected, our principal was not quite happy about it. He was worried that our performances in the SLC would be hampered by our activities. Despite all his worries, we graduated from our secondary school with distinction.
After the SLC, we came to Kathmandu where we found so many young activists full of vision, enthusiasm and passion. Unlike us, most of them have started their activism after the SLC or high school. Nevertheless, they were way ahead of us for they had a Midas touch to reach out to the targeted group and a platform to get their voices heard, something we were not very familiar with. It was the internet and technology.
Recently, a group of tech enthusiasts at ‘Janaki Tech’ raised more than Rs. 115,000 for Kumar Kanchha Treatment Fund. The money was raised through SMS (by typing ‘Help’ and sending to 5001 would automatically work as a donation of Rs. 1.38) for his treatment, a perfect blend of activism and technology. Many Facebook pages were created and notices relayed via websites and other social networks.
Ankur Sharma, an engineer by profession, is all set to create another impact by opening an online portal—http://www.sharingforscience.org/—to establish a community-based science readers’ group for sharing, collecting and contributing science related journals, books and periodicals with the ultimate aim to establish a full-fledged science library with media capability. Cyberspace has apparently blurred the social, political and geographical borders. Prajjwal Baral, one of the 10 students winning Global UN volunteering award, proved this point once again when he raised some funds and other technical help through UN online volunteering. He has never been to any foreign land requiring a visa but the money that he helped to raise has been spent for noble causes in Uganda, Bangladesh, Brazil, Turkey and Ghana.
Anyone can become an online volunteer by logging onto the UNV website—http://www.onlinevolunteering.org/. All one has to do is pick up areas of his/her expertise and interest and do something good s/he can do online—developing websites, translating documents, making programme strategies and searching related donors and partners. Recently, young wildlife activists of National Youth Alliance for Rhino Conservation organised a silent protest rally, inviting participants through Facebook messages. Activism is treading new vistas.
Online activism has become a more effective way not only for social work. It has also been one of the effective ways for intellectual criticism. The young are slowly changing their ways of revolution. They blog their points of disagreement and revolt online. Aakar Anil, a popular Nepali blogger, shares his experience of so-called online revolution when the government stepped up measures to ban some websites that include ‘sex’ in their domain and all blogs containing the ‘blogspot’ sub-domain. “Many of us blogged against the step, being finally able to draw the concern of leading newspapers. The government had to withdraw its decision without requiring to bow to a strike.’
These days, blogs have become flexible platforms for sharing and communicating. It is about building strong networks and championing causes. And it’s about creating the space for innovation, exchange of ideas, and new connections that all spill over into our day-to-day work and make it better.
This was originally appeared on 'Metro' page of The Kathmandu Post. Click here for e-paper view.