Under the mental health and child protection program “Aao Baat Kare” jointly run by UNICEF, District Administration, and Chhattisgarh Agricon Samiti; volunteers of Yuvoday Kondanar Champs, Bijadutir and Manobal from Kondagaon, Bijapur and Bilaspur respectively have been organizing various programs, events, and awareness campaigns. To review the impact of their work, UNICEF’s India representative Mr. Yasumasa Kimura visited Kondagaon.
In Bade Bendri of Kondagaon district, Mr. Kimura was warmly welcomed with an Adivasi dance performance. A discussion was conducted on community mental health, wherein the mental health program- ‘Aao Baat Kare’, was discussed in detail. ‘Aao Baat Kare’ is a Community Mental Health and Child Protection Programme wherein, the first step towards betterment- talking about Mental Health is given significance. Before even trying to make a change for the better, it is important to talk about it and make people aware of what is mental health.
The volunteers also threw light on their programs ‘Hum Honge Kamyab’ – (wherein the students of class 10th and 12th were taught how to deal with exam-related pressures and stress), ‘Panchayat Chalo Abhiyaan’- (myths related to mental health were busted among the community) and ‘Panthak’ – (a guidebook for children’s social-emotional learning and child safe spaces) and wall writings on mental health and child-safe spaces were presented and displayed.
In the discussion, many people from the village such as high school and primary school teachers, Aanganwadi workers, and others elaborated on how Yuvoday Kondanar Champs volunteers are working for the betterment of the communities and the kind of reach and impact they have. Some volunteers shared their own stories of change. Activities like ‘Udan chu taali’ – a game wherein people clap their hands and relieve their stress into thin air, ‘Shammi dance’- a dance wherein stress is released, and ‘Snake and Ladders’- where children play the game on a human size large mat wherein the snakes represent bad habits, and the ladders represent good habits; were held. The Sarpanch with more than 500 villagers and 60+ volunteers attended the event and participated with great spirit and energy.
Even though Mr. Kimura did not understand the language, he understood the emotion. He sat down and listened to everybody, he saw the kids play, and even danced along with the people to halbi songs towards the end of the event.
From UNICEF- Chhattisgarh head- Mr. Job Zachariah, Behavioral change specialist- Mr. Abhishek Singh, Child Protection Specialist- Mrs. Chetna Desai, Health specialist- Dr. Shridhar, and CAP specialist- Mr. Sam Sudheer Bandi graced the occasion with their presence.
From Chhattisgarh Agricon Samiti- Samiti’s Secretary Mr. Manas Banerjee and Program coordinator- Ms. Danish K. Hussain along with district coordinators from all 3 project areas were present.