At the age of 14, Aanand Kumar Sahani was deeply troubled by the fact that so many children of his age had to work in hotels and even get married. It was then when he decided to join the ‘Bal Club’ of his locality hoping to make a positive change in these children’s lives. He has worked relentlessly ever since then to provide children of his locality to get fundamental human rights.
In his hometown Janakpur, things like child marriage and child labor are normalized which take away their fundamental rights of children and also hampering their lives. Sahani used to wonder how could he stop these atrocities committed on these children and then he found out about the Bal Club in his locality through which he thought he could make a positive impact on the children. Through the club, he has been running different programs and campaigns like street dramas, inter-school competitions with an aim to provide awareness on dowry system, child marriage, untouchability and child labor. “As a teenager myself, I am compelled to provide a better life for the children who haven’t been getting the rights they deserve. Through these campaigns, we can at least make people aware about the harms these child marriages and labor do to the children’s lives,” he said thoughtfully when asked about his work.
He has also collaborated with different NGOs and INGOs of his district hoping to gain more resources for his campaigns and programs.
It is no easy job to advocate for child rights in a community when these heinous acts on children are normalized. He has also faced many difficulties on his journey but he has remained persistent enough to face and solve these hurdles. “When my club members and I tried to stop child marriages in our locality, the guardians of the children used to get defensive. Likewise, hotel owners used to get angry at us when we tried to free child laborers. So, we had to collaborate with our local police officers and municipality officers to stop these actions” said Aanand. He expressed his gratitude to the police and municipality officers of his community who collaborated with his club to do the right thing which has made many children’s lives better. He has stopped half a dozen of child marriages and multiple child laborers till now.
Glocal Teen Hero and plans for his future
He first heard of Glocal Teen Hero from the senior members of his club which made him research about this opportunity on social media. “The brothers of my club wholeheartedly supported me and thought this platform would provide a lifetime of an opportunity for me and the children of my community” said Aanand.
“I have a vision to make my community Child Friendly Local Governance (CFLG) in the near future and expand my advocacy all over Nepal” said Aanand when asked about his future plans. He also wants to continue his study and take activism, and study hand in hand. He believes it is important for people to understand the issues prevailing in the society which is why he wants to keep on engaging in social activism.
Aanand Kumar Shahni was selected among the 20 brightest young entrepreneurs, innovators and game changers below the age of 20 in Nepal, for the year 2019. This annual list is the ultimate honor roll of young game changers reshaping Nepal for the better. The platform seeks to encourage the youths to share their initiation, creativity, and enthusiasm which will then motivate them and more of the other youths in the nation to develop an entrepreneurial thinking.