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Youth participating in cultural event for celebration of Youth Day

Caritas Nepal Youth Engagement Project

Introduction

Caritas Nepal is a non-profit organization solely devoted to the service of the poor, most disadvantaged, and marginalized people irrespective of caste, creed, ethnicity, and nationality.

The organization was founded in 1990 by the Catholic Church to respond the devastating floods and other natural disasters that occurred.

Caritas Nepal applies animation approach and sector-specific participatory approaches to empower the poor, marginalized, and disadvantaged people to reduce poverty, hunger, secure humanitarian assistance in man-made and natural emergency situations realizing social justice and peace.

Background

The situation of youth with limited employment opportunities in Nepal is matter of concern. One person in every five families is into foreign employment to support their family. Lack of education and skills with increasing competition push millions of youth every year to move outside the country in hopes of better future, and often face fraud and scam traps, sometimes even losing lives in worst case scenario. Those migrating to India via open border for work end up in brothels, as bondage labor and modern-day slave, servant (into servitude) for life. But despite all these possible risks, may still prefer to work abroad risking lives.

The decade long civil war claimed more than 17 thousand lives scarring people with worst memories. These people directly affected by the war were unable to get back to their normal life. Moreover, the children and youth in these conflict affected areas lacked education, employment and other basic amenities and opportunities to lead a normal life.

Every year millions of people in Nepal get affected by disaster occurrences such as flood, landslide and fire. The 2015 earthquake affected 32 districts of Nepal with significant loss of life and property resulting massive humanitarian crisis. Also 67 wild fire incidents in 2020 is a recent example of fire occurrences that claimed thousands of wild lives and vegetations. And despite prevention and mitigation activities, and countless effort in the vulnerable areas from the Government, I/NGOs and community, many people still get affected by it. The youth involvement in DRR related activities is minimal compared to other age groups. Also, their involvement is insignificant in local and networking level activities, which needs to be improved in coordination with I/NGOs and local government agencies.

All this and much more, with no right opportunities at right time disable youth from productive work benefitting them and as well for their communities. Youth, specifically residing in rural areas lack opportunities in regards to education, skills and live saving support. Therefore, the situation of youths from marginalized vulnerable areas is of bigger concern, and demand timely Government and I/NGOs attention.

Objective of Youth Engagement Projects

Caritas Nepal has designed, and been designing various youth engagement projects to empower youth from different parts of Nepal. The projects provide equal opportunities to youth irrespective sex, to involve in life changing project activities, and surprisingly despite male supremacy communities, the number of female participants in the projects is overwhelming. Caritas projects have always encouraged equal participation of male and female youth in its projects, which in most targeted communities is inspiring.

Objectives of the projects are as follows:

  • To empower children and youths from conflict affected, marginalized, disadvantaged and vulnerable families to live better lives with dignity peace and harmony that aims to protect and promote the rights of Children and Youth through advocacy and awareness programs.
  • To aware youth about unsafe migration and motivate to pursue education and other forms of personal development
  • To enhance the capacity of youths and cater the social, socio-economic and environmental need of the community and hence to support to move out of poverty.

Youth Engagement Projects

Caritas Nepal since its early years been venturing projects engaging youth from different parts of Nepal. Youths from 15 (out of 77) districts are engaged in these projects. Caritas Nepal Head office, regional offices, partner organizations, government agencies and various stakeholders including community have come up together for the project.

The projects engaged youth from different religion, caste and from different age groups from school, college going youth, to school, college drop-out, from unemployed to those involved in farming, from foreign return to those owning their own business. And yes, the essence of the projects is to engage these youth from different walks of life into CN projects to benefit them, and more over benefit the whole community at large.

Since a single project cannot cover large project locations to address beneficiary needs, several projects with specific objectives were ventured to support the youth from various vulnerable areas. The CYEP, Children and Youth Empowerment Project in four province targeted youth of conflict affected, marginalized, disadvantaged and vulnerable families to promote and protect their rights along with improvement in capacity of job skills. SAMVAB (Ensuring safe Migration through Awareness, Reintegration and Capacity building) project engaged youth of two districts to aware them about unsafe migration, to help continue their education and support in other personal development. Youth Empowerment for Social Changes and Resilience Building project in one district provided platform for the voiceless youth with a platform to voice their opinions and involve in dialogue and decision making on local level through various activities.

Impact of the projects:

Caritas projects have been able to animate and empower youth that once lacked opportunities. Some projects were able to educate youth, provide career counseling and skill development trainings (including agriculture), whereas others were able to aware on unsafe migration and related concerns on local level. Some directly worked on forming of new youth clubs and re-forming of old ones while others engaged youth in social and community activities. Therefore, CN projects oversees holistic approach through overall development of youth from their personality development for playing key role in social transformation and livelihood sustainability. 

The projects have impacted on knowledge enhancement of youths on their rights, leadership skills and behavioral changes. Vocational trainings capacitated to start earning through small scale business and entrepreneurship. Moreover, the projects have been able to bring youth from different caste, religion and mobilize them for common community good. The CYEP project in 4 provinces empowered youth through awareness raising programs, advocacy and networking, leadership and capacity building, Extra- curricular activities, educational and entrepreneurship programs.

Also, the engagement of youth in Disaster related activities benefitted the whole targeted community vulnerable to disasters such as flood and fire. Disaster prevention and mitigation projects enabled youth to participate in building disaster resilient community benefitting everyone. Youth were highly encouraged in social activities, providing support in social cause for which even the local government agencies were collaborated with.

To sum up, Caritas through youth engagement projects has been able to benefit and contribute for a social change through youth leadership. This change was possible by animating them through social and communal activities to play vital role in upbringing social status by educating them in a multi-dimensional way.  With this and many other project activities, youth now are aware of their rights, skilled, educated, and contributing their best to be that change in their community.