R.Aswathi (standing right) with other participants of the ’youth for peace workshop’ held in Geneva. R. Aswathi, a Plus-Two student of Bharathiya Vidya Bhavan Matriculation Higher Secondary School, is just back from Geneva after attending a ‘youth for peace’ workshop organised by the Arigatou Foundation’s Global Network of Religions for Children. She was one among the youth representatives from over a dozen countries who participated in the four-day programme.
Youngsters with a vision were selected by various organisations working in co-ordination with the Arigatou Foundation for the workshop to enhance their interfaith and inter-cultural understanding. Aswathi was selected by Shanti Ashram, a co-ordinator of the programme in India. “The workshop gave us an idea about how to carry out a project professionally,” says Aswathi. Since her participation in the Horlicks Whiz Kid contest in 2007, Aswathi has been deeply involved with the cause of children infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.
She has been interacting closely with organisations working for people living with HIV/AIDS and speaking to schools about the need to include these children in the mainstream. Aswathi had also started a students’ forum in Coimbatore through which she seeks to spread the message of tolerance towards children who have been affected by HIV/AIDS. “Ignorance is the only reason why discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS prevails. If the youth get involved in eradicating the stigma attached to the disease, it can be achieved,” she says. Her commitment towards the cause earned her a place in the international youth workshop where Aswathi says she could learn a lot more about the condition of children world over. “The interaction with children from Tanzania, Kenya, Jordan, Israel and Palestine was a very educative experience,” she adds.
Aswathi was accompanied by another student from New Delhi. The workshop included detailed sessions on communication methods, non-violent alternatives to deal with a problem and methods of preparing project proposals. All the participants spoke about their activities and the others could ask questions concerning their diverse areas of activity. She plans to continue her activities for children who have been affected by HIV/AIDS.