A Brand New Yuva Café: Growing Makkala Jagriti’s Youth Outreach!
The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow. At Makkala Jagriti, we ﬁrmly believe that empowering youth from marginalized communities to discover their potential can bring social transformation. We set up Yuva Cafés – spaces for the youth & by the youth where youth from diﬀerent communities can congregate and access opportunities to learn and grow.
In June 2022, we opened a new Yuva Café in Gopalapuram, not too far from Bengaluru’s Majestic bus station. This is Makkala Jagriti’s third Yuva Café, after our Malleswaram and Halasuru locations, since the inception of our flagship youth empowerment program Yuva Jagriti in 2017. The Yuva Café is a safe space for youth to explore self-expression, interests and engage in various activities.
While there are many programs designed to elevate youth from under-resourced backgrounds towards their socio-economic upliftment, our direct work experience in urban poor settlements in Bangalore over 18 years reveals a harsh reality. Most often, we find these youth opting out of jobs, unable to sustain and leverage opportunities presented to them. These jobs do not match their aptitude, interest or skills, leaving them frustrated and disappointed. Efforts at building employability in youngsters do not nurture their emotional intelligence or life skills, which could help them to find fulfillment in their work and thus sustain a vocation.
Our youth program – Yuva Jagriti – is anchored in the belief that capacities can be built to understand and achieve their dreams, through well-rounded self-development, and not just vocational training. The Yuva Café serves as a platform that provides them access to opportunities to fulfill their aspirations and also prepares them for life by equipping them with the necessary life skills.
A visit to a Yuva Café would reveal a wide variety of courses that contribute to youth development and empowerment. Programs in Computer Literacy, proficiency in Spoken English and Life Skills are among the popular draws for youth, and these programs are available for them without any prerequisites.
Students who have discontinued school studies owing to a variety of circumstances have the opportunity to seek support at our Yuva Cafés, do what’s needed to catch up on their studies, and gain guidance on available pathways that match their interests.
With a growing library, a computer lab and everyday sessions this space aims to facilitate the youth of the community to achieve their aspirations. For youth from marginalised communities, this is something of great importance, considering opportunities for education and personal growth are still far from accessible.
Through the Yuva Cafés, our Yuva Jagriti program has reached more than 1,000 youth over the last five years, with discernible outcomes:
- They have become role models and change agents within their communities.
- They have grown in their leadership qualities and are able to work together and come up with solutions to problems.
- There is greater emotional stability and control.
- They are able to enter the mainstream workforce and sustain themselves in their positions.
At the end of the day, all our youth need is an environment that enables freedom of expression and promotes confidence, and this environment must be run by the youth, for the youth. That is the essence of our Yuva Cafés.