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Spending the day at YP Foundation in Delhi – Building potential of low income communities with student volunteers

​YP Foundation was started in 2002 by social entrepreneur Ishita Chaudhry with support from the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. It began by helping communities suffering from the communal violence in Gujarat. Here’s the story of the day we spent with them whilst in Delhi.

Photo of Nathan Waterhouse

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The first thing that struck us about meeting the team at YP was the sheer energy. It was highly infectious. Essentially their organisation works with low income communities in India to help lift them out of poverty. It does this by inducting volunteers from local schools who in turn work to carry out established programs with local communities. 

The Stats

23 staff, 150 volunteers, 6500, young people, 300 projects, 650,000 young people.

Example of one of their programs

The Butterfly Project focuses on institutionalised care homes – 150 children so far have been impacted in the three years it’s been running. They work with these kids because they have the least amount of ability to voice their opinion and voice. They work with the children in a participatory approach to help them learn about their subjects such as gender discrimination. They do this by training them in the video making process. The kids then produce their own videos to express how they understand the topic. Now these same kids, 3 years later are holding workshops and talking with other young people to help them. They've become what YP calls Community Peer educators. 

Women & Girls Empowerment & Safety

YP addresses girls' empowerment via several projects and channels. Their ' Know Your Body, Know Your Rights' program focuses on 
Peer Education, Understanding Gender, Health, Sexuality, Rights and HIV/AIDS. 

Also their Right to Information program focuses on getting communities registered, often overcoming the challenge that many slum communities have – a lack of a qualifying address to register to vote or to apply for a job.

How they measure success

  • These metrics are purely for the Butterly program, one of many that YP run, but are indicative of their others:
  • The video is not the end result
  • Have the conditions changed in the care homes changed?
  • Have situations changed at home?
  • Have new people started contributing within care home?
  • Is violence reduced and is negotiation being used instead?
  • Goal is everyone having a space to express
  • Legacy?
We spent the day with the core team, and played some of the games that we’d designed to help understand end-user participation on these Amplify challenge. After that we went to see the real work being done in one of the colonies they work with. It was an after school program and the session being run today was all about body awareness. We tried to watch from the sidelines as it was a difficult session for the children there. Mats were laid out on a concrete space at the back of the community. Children of similar age ranges sat on the mats and a large piece of flip chart paper with a drawing of a body on it was laid in the middle. The children were given stickers and asked to use them to describe where they felt different emotions in their bodies and to discuss. 

After the class was over, we got to meet some of the children (see photos). I’ll follow up with a separate post on what we learned from them. But suffice it to say that it was incredibly moving to learn that the children of this community didn’t know how to treat each other with respect before YP foundation started working with them, they didn’t even have a place to learn, and no one knew about sanitation so infectious diseases were rife. What YP Foundation is doing is truly remarkable.

What’s really interesting about their work:

  1. Help young people realise they have rights
  2. Works with each community, but doesn’t focus on one issue: instead they help develop the community across five areas in an integrated manner
  3. Doesn’t stick to one funder but works with many different organisations
How else can we bring young people into a participatory process to help transform communities and in so doing, improve their welfare?

What other examples of more intergrated and holistic approaches to development have you seen? (blending education, health, tech skills, rights etc)


Join the conversation:

Photo of Meena Kadri

Awesome stuff, Nathan. It's great to read about how they track impact. The video making sessions sound great – and I can imagine they are empowering on many levels. Being able to talk about emotions is also a great idea – and it's great how they are approaching this in a fun way.

I'm especially loving that this program grew out of work done on the back of the Gujurat riots. Given my family is from there... and I lived there shortly after the riots, I'm super grateful to anyone who has contributed to the much needed work on the ground.

The notion of peer based learning took me back to this: So much potential for youth volunteers within integrated approaches!

Photo of Meena Kadri

Aditi + Dhruv: Here's a friendly tip – update your OpenIDEO profile page so folks can dig who they're collaborating with here. You might include things like skills, experience & passions. Looking forward to seeing more of you across conversations on this challenge...

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