A network of youth volunteers under the Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS) is helping raise awareness about Covid-19 pandemic through street art and wall paintings. The NYKS comes under the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, and has a network of 8.5 million youth spread across 623 districts in the country. This community outreach is not just happening in the Capital, and is spread in various cities. Crisp messaging, colourful visuals and catchy slogans have made these walls a symbol of our fight against coronavirus and will go down in the city’s history as a reminder of our resilience.
“We have a pool of volunteers across our nine offices in Delhi. These National youth volunteers are part of our community outreach programmes under the guidance of our district officers. When this pandemic spread, we tapped into social media to help create awareness and extend help. After lockdown relaxations, our volunteers started distributing food, making posters, and painting walls with the support of the district administration,” says Nand Kumar Singh, state director, NYKS Delhi.
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These volunteers are in direct contact with the community and work at the grassroots. To become a volunteer, it is necessary to have passed the class X CBSE exams, and the age cap is 29 years. The idea is to hone rural youth physically, mentally and morally, and to integrate them with the mainstream so that they become responsible citizens.
A youth volunteer painting a wall in New Delhi district.
Vikas Kumar, an 18-year old volunteer from North-East Delhi district, was 14-years old when he started volunteering for NYKS. He completed his higher secondary education from Kendriya Vidyalaya and is currently working with five other volunteers. “We made paintings in Ganga Vihar, Amar Colony, Tunda Nagar and Johri Pur. We were told that we have to spread awareness about coronavirus and it was upto us to decide how to go about it. We went door-to-door making announcements, distributing masks and talking to residents about their problems. I have always wanted to be involved in this kind of work and help others,” he says, sharing that there is still a long way to go before stigmas around the virus are removed.
Wall paintings are an effective tool of communication, because they don’t just beautify a place, but also catch more eyeballs. Nisha Kumari, district youth coordinator for New Delhi district, says, “We have covered the areas of RK Puram, Chanakya Puri, Delhi Cantonement. Wall paintings look very attractive and draw the attention of passers-by. It is something that elicits feelings of happiness and you can’t miss it,” she says.
A youth volunteer working on a wall in one of the areas in North Delhi district.
Volunteers are allocated as per the requirement of the districts. Poonam Sharma, district youth coordinator for North district, says, “I have 11 volunteers who are involved in making posters, painting walls and helping the elderly. We are conducting slogan-writing competitions and mask-making drives to engage with the community. Dry ration and cooked food is being distributed by these volunteers,” she explains. The response has been fairly positive in her district, save for some who are the worst-hit by the pandemic. “Many of them didn’t have ration cards so our volunteers helped get their e-ration cards,” she adds.
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Rajesh Kumar Jadon, district youth coordinator for Central district is working with 13 volunteers at present. “We are working in Yamuna Bazaar, Karol Bagh and Paharganj. Our volunteers have enlisted the help of some painters to help polish the walls because not everyone is comfortable trusting just about anyone to paint their walls,” he says. His volunteers stitched 1,500 masks, cooked and distributed food, and provided stationery to kids who are studying at home. “One of our volunteers got a sanitization machine and sprayed around 50 houses for eight days,” he shares.
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