Cool their nerves…. Breathe deeply… Do last minute research… Get enough sleep… These may sound like activities children do the night before a test. However, in this case the children had just found out that they were about to meet a Nobel Peace Prize winner the next day. It is not every day that one gets to meet face to face such figures. So when the chance comes, you better make sure that you are composed and you have all your questions ready!
Vibha Bay Area Youth Chapter volunteers had this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet Mr. Kailash Satyarthi on May 8th, 2016. Satyarthi is a children’s rights and education advocate and an activist against child labor. His work has impacted over 80,000 children to date and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 (along with Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai).
Mr Satyarthi’s mission, in close alignment with that of Vibha’s (to ensure that every under privileged child attains his, or her right to health, education and opportunity), translated exquisitely to an unforgettable experience for our youth. They met, discussed Vibha and their work, and asked questions to understand his thoughts and dedication-driven journey to date. Saying that he was still a kid at heart, Satyarthi joked around with all the volunteers, comparing his clothes with theirs – similarities in the youth’s red Vibha t-shirts and the red in his scarf. He also took selfies & pictures with the children and gave a keynote speech which will have eternal impact on the children.
Mohul Aggarwal, a middle school student made a sketch of Satyarthi and presented it to him. The sketch, he was told, will be hung in Mr. Satyarthi’s Washington DC office. Other youth volunteers also present at the meeting were Jiya Singh, Samhita Srivatsan, Sanjay Srivatsan and Armaan Sharma.
When asked what was Satyarthi’s main inspiration for all his work, he shared an inspiring story of a young 10-year-old who wanted to make a difference in the lives of poor children. He also said that he has tried to “edit the constitution but what he really does is step up and want to stand up for people.” Over time, he received the necessary support with which he was able to make a difference. He also emphasized that awareness of Child Labor is vital for any reform. He believes there is a lot more left to be done.
The Vibha youth volunteers’ amazing experience helped them “realize how fortunate [they] are to not experience the things that impoverished kids do. We do big and small events to raise funds and awareness,” said Mohul. Representing Vibha to a World renowned personality, they were assured that their “… single aim of life is that every child is free to be a child, free to grow and develop, free to eat, sleep, see daylight, free to laugh and cry, free to play, free to learn, free to go to school, and above all, free to dream.” (Satyarthi)
Pictures and video are available on the Vibha Youth Chapter Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/vibhayouthbayarea/.