FST has four thematic areas of operation which includes “Fostering Youth and Social Action”. Looking towards working with youths of the region in a more in-depth process of leadership building, we partnered with National Foundation of India (NFI) with the objective to build capacities and confidence of young people towards peace building. The NFI-FST Youth Peace Awards aims to work in 2 conflict affected regions of Assam – Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts (BTAD) and Dima Hasao Autonomous District Council engaging with 6 youths aged 18-35 years. These 6 awardees work in collaboration with local youth for peace building and social equity in the project areas which will in turn lead to engagement of youth in social action, leadership development and deeper understanding on social issues.

We spread the word about the NFI-FST Youth Peace Awards earlier this spring and received a good response from youths from these areas. We selected 15 youth applicants and shortlisted it further into 6 final applicants who we are now supporting and mentoring throughout the project period. While one of the awardees could not continue his project due to various personal reasons, the rest of the awardees are doing wonderful ground work with the peers in their community. Meet the NFI-FST Youth Peace Awards:

Name: Amarjit Basumatary
Group Name: Orai Swnkhwr NGO
Location: Kokrajhar, BTAD
Project Name: Voluntary Support for Lonely Older People

“With the advancement of society and various hot pursuits, social injustices on older peoples are increasing day by day willingly or unwillingly or due to ignorance…. Hence older peoples lack health care, physical support, food, shelter and other day-to-day requirements.”

Amarjit runs an Old Age Home in Kokrajhar and his desire is to motivate the youths of the 18-25 age group to volunteer at his Old Age Home to provide physical and emotional support for the senior citizens. He also wants to build a platform where youths and older people/senior citizens can get together for sharing their problems and experiences which will create awareness among the youths about the responsibility to senior citizens. He will then select a total of 20 volunteers among the youths and work with them to provide services for senior citizens.

Name: Bwhwiti Brahma
Group Members: Juli Brahma, Dwiji Brahma and Nandalal Basumatary
Location: Chirang, BTAD
Project Name: Peace and Development

“The biggest problem that is being faced by different communities is the communication gap. This causes a lot of mis-understanding.” This group of young motivated youth from Chirang want to eradicate the problems faced due to communication gap, which they believe leads to misunderstanding between communities. With the help of activities such as workshops, cultural exchange, and other such inter-community creative exchanges, the group aims to change the mentality of the people and ultimately bring harmony and unity amoung the people. Their work is focused on youth between the age group of 16-25 and in the areas of Mongalian, Amguri and Rowmari of the Chirang District.

Name: Dhajen Basumatary
Location: Kokrajhar, BTAD
Project Name: A documentary film on the impact of violence and terrorism on the lives of children in BTAD, Assam.

“Violence in any form due to insurgency, communal or ethnic conflict, murders, fratricidal killings, government repression and other forms of atrocities is a reiterating phenomenon in BTAD….. Among others, the children happen to be the most vulnerable victims of such violence. Many children are killed, goes missing, either lose their father or both the parents, family members, become disabled, etc…. In this process, they become an easy prey of militant recruitment either willingly or by force…. This contributes, directly or indirectly, contributes towards the repetition of violence in a vicious cycle…”

Dhajen wants to make a documentary film on the negative consequences of the ongoing violence and conflict in BTAD on the innocent lives of children. With this documentary, he wishes to highlight and sensitize the horror of violence and terrorism so that people will pause for a second before getting involved in such violence. His work revolves around children between the age of 4-15 years who are victims of violence and terrorism from different communities – Muslim, Bodo, Koch-Rajbangshi, Bengali and Adivasi. After research, filming and post-production of the documentary, Dhajen wishes to distribute the films for free to influential institutions within his district, screen them through various local channels and send the documentary to film festivals.

Name: Mijanur Rahman
Group Members: 18+Youths
Location: Kokrajhar, BTAD
Project Name: Peace for Development

“The fear and agony of losing their loved ones, faced by the inmates of orphanage can hardly be vanished, but, what we as a group want to achieve through this project is that, there can be a common platform created in the orphanage as the epicentre.”

18+ Youths, led by Mijanur, started an orphanage in Gosaigaon in 2013 for conflict affected children of the 2012 BTAD conflicts. The orphanage has around 35 children, and a handful of these children have been rehabilitated to their relative’s custody. The group wants to organize exchange programs, cultural exchanges, discussions and various activities for youths in order to bring in a sense of common understanding amongst different communities and solve the post conflict disturbances. The group will work with 25 young people in the age group of 18-35, selected from neighbouring villages, to assist in running the orphanage and promote peace in the BTAD area.

Name: Purna Chetri
Location: Baksa, BTAD
Project Name: Livelihood Promotion through Mushroom Cultivation

“Conventional agriculture is not always able to provide good returns. The size of land holding is very small and there are a large number of small farmers and these numbers are growing. In this situation, mushroom can play an important role in generating sustainable income for small & marginalized farmers.”
Purna believes that mushroom cultivation could solve the problem of migration among marginalized families. Mushrooms require vertical space, very little production costs, doesn’t require irrigation and just two months to give produce. These low investment activities will create opportunities to earn and run their livelihood and curb the problem of migration to some extent. He also wishes to use this as an opportunity to bring together frustrated youth of his community for creative problem solving discussions.