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Mandira Shrestha is a 19-year-old Health Activist from Ramechhap. She worked as the team leader of “Child-led report on UPR, 2020”. She is also actively involved as a member of the Integrated National Adolescent Girls Forum, also a core member of Girls in Education, facilitator of Tri-Padma Child Club, a community volunteer, and trainer in the SRHR field working with the target group of children, adolescents, youths, women and LGBTIQ++. 

Her dedication and enthusiasm towards bringing impact in society has made her one of the change-makers and recognized her as one of the Top 6 Finalists of Glocal Teen Hero 2020. She has set a good example in society and motivated all the teenagers who are willing to do something new in the field of the health sector.

We had a few conversations with her regarding her project and journey on Glocal Teen Hero 2020. The major highlights of the interview are given below:

How was your experience when you were announced as Top 6 Finalist of Wai Wai Glocal Teen Hero Nepal?

It was the experience that I think everyone would love to have. I appeared to know about GTH just the day after its formal announcement. After I read all the information provided there, I gave a lot of thought on should I apply or shouldn’t? As I am already 19, it’s the first and last chance for me to apply for GTH. I have been following it since 2016 so I was sure that it’s such a great platform for teens like me to grow up and explore more about myself. I thought to apply for this- to win or not is on one side, but let’s try to give my best. It took me a whole of 2 months to prepare all the necessary documents and with some fear and some hope; I sent my application just 2 days before the deadline.

I wished to be at least under Glocal 20 under 20 but never has expected to come this far. When I saw an email regarding my success for being selected for Glocal’s 20under20, that happiness was boundless. I was too much excited about the upcoming opportunity coming behind this title. Soon, there was a notice for the top 6 announcements, I didn’t know much about other under 20 applicants. But from their title, I had predicted that all are great, and to be on the same platform was enough, so I wasn’t wishing much for being under the top 6 but I was too eager to know that. So, I had kept alarmed for that moment as I was too busy with other work. Right at 7 pm, along with the alarm, other notifications pop up and guess what. That was an email regarding my selection for the Top 6 finalists. There was nothing that I wanted more than. It made me realise that I could make a difference. I was so excited that I couldn’t control myself even for a moment to read the whole email. I jumped and shouted just after reading the title. I always used to say if I can make a positive difference to just one person in the course of my day at work, then I should be proud of that and at that moment I was proud of myself for never losing sight towards my own dreams and passions.

It was such a surrealistic moment, filled with joy and excitement. And also, a feeling of that, now it is really up to me to create more platforms like this for health faculties, too. The expectations for me to perform better in my involved fields are now higher than ever before, and that is to be an important motivational fact in our forthcoming evolutions. I am delighted for the upcoming responsibility and opportunities along with this title. I have set a certain level of success for myself and it gives me comfort in knowing that I will do best to reach that level.

This part of my life led me to the person I am today. I am too much thankful to all my family, friends, relatives, and close ones for their trust and hope, also the supporters and creators of this platform. I will do the best thing possible better utilizing this title. That’s how I feel, still, some never can be explained in words.

What inspires you to become a health Activist?

Change is casual as nothing in this world is static, and to be someone always eager and desperate for that change is always a need of the society and a country. Being a health activist makes my heart feel the most for the development of this infrastructure as it is the linkage for all other development infrastructure.

If you’re zealous about helping people and making a difference in their lives, working in healthcare can be one of the most rewarding career choices. Working in the healthcare industry allows you to nurture your desire to help others while earning a living—talk about a win-win. Indeed, there are few professions where you can touch the lives of others—and make a difference in them—the way you can in the healthcare industry. You could help save a life or help bring a new one into the world. You can care for patients as they recover, assist families through some of the most difficult times in their lives, or work behind the scenes to keep a medical facility running smoothly. And that’s what inspires me to be involved in the health faculty as I always wanted to do the same thing in my career that is challenging, interesting, and makes a difference in people’s lives daily.

In the nursing profession, we deal with many aspects of patient care, and I enjoy the variety in the routine. I enjoyed working with my patients and I have a passion for helping people. I have always thought that the healthcare field is not for everyone–you must truly want to help other people and you must have compassion. Regardless of my specific role in the hospital, I get to play some part in helping people, or even entire communities and positively affect their lives as a result. 

The medical field is fast-paced, exciting, and ever-changing. Each day will present new information and challenges, keeping things interesting. Each day is never the same when we are in the healthcare field; our patients make each day exciting and innovative.  

When we decide to be a health activist, we choose a variety of different opportunities. There is something for everyone’s interest. It’s not compulsory to be restricted in hospital boundaries only, there are lots of other platforms to grow as a healthcare provider. Working in the healthcare field will test us in more ways than we ever imagined. We will be tested personally and professionally. We will meet people who change our life and we will learn things that will better help in our career development. I genuinely love working with people and helping them to feel better. Whether it’s inside a hospital or outside of it, I will be helping to make the world a little healthier, a little safer and a little better.  Making an impact on their lives, however small, is the most rewarding thing I can think of. That’s what inspired me to become a health activist.

When did you realize that you should work for society?

I had always wanted a career path where I could help to empower individuals and community members to find solutions, advance changes, promote social justice, and pull communities together in a way that fosters both human and global well-being.  As we all have listened to the very great person Mahatma Gandhi,” Be the change you wish to see in the world. Don’t wait for the world to change. Go out and make a difference,” I have solely lived with this motto. 

Since childhood, I had always been fond of helping and serving people, but personally, fondness wasn’t enough for me, something big was waiting for me ahead. It’s already been 9 years when I stepped my foot in this career path of social work through the field of child rights. I started my journey when I was 11 and now I am 19, just one step far to be adult to look up this, I have actually nurtured and grown up in this field first by learning about child’s rights, improvising all the rights in my own life, and then started departing it to others. Firstly, my journey in this field started when a child club was established for the first time in our school through our joint effort with Lalitpur Metropolitan City. After getting involved, there were a lot of hardships yet I was able to learn a lot. Every day was not a bright one. But it says, the night is always darkest before the first light of dawn. It became a key stepping stone for me moving onward. 

Overall, the positive environment, friendly people around me, and the saying inside my mind “I have to do, I can do and I will do” is the best motivation and is motivating me to continue my journey. As a result, I am here being an advocate and a voice for the quiet voices among us, looking forward with full zeal and enthusiasm.

I got membership in various other organizations and was personally involved to solve the issues on child abuse, labor violence, and corporal punishment, etc. And after constant effort, when I succeed to get a various accomplishment like declaring my area as child labor free zone, making my club as one of the best child clubs and I get awarded with many honour ship like the best member, active volunteer, rotary star of Patan and so on; which a great motivation for myself to continue my work. When people recognized and praised my efforts and their kind words motivated me to do more for society.

Finding a genuine connection is always challenging for everyone’s life as a vision differs with time. But looking at nature and feeling the connectivity towards it is always under a comfort which stimulates my neuron to do something for it with full dedication and passion.I want to have a positive impact on someone who needs help and that thirst and hunger to bring positive changes on health, education and the social sector is what keeps me going on.

What were the challenges you have faced in your journey?

Life is a full journey and challenges. Challenges are a universal part of human experience. In fact, most of us face multiple challenges simultaneously every day, whether physical, financial, mental, emotional or all of the above, it can get irresistible. 

Since the starting of this journey of activism, I have faced a lot of challenges but they are what allow me to expand myself, become more inclusive and more compassionate.

When the club was established with our joint effort in my school, the first challenges arose there, as it was for the first time and I was just 10 at that time, very young to take responsibility and lead the whole team. Secondly, when the complaint box was established in school, I and along with my team advocate for ongoing sexual harassment in school, it was like we were digging our own pit. We faced a lot of criticism at that time. It took us a lot of time to solve that case by compelling the teacher who was doing that kind of unwanted behaviour. From then on, we got both our supporters and critics. After that, I got a passion to be involved in activism and work for others.

But, Starting this kind of activism at such a young age was unacceptable for our society at that time as that was the moment to focus on reading and writing. To initiate to do something like this stepping out of my comfort zone was something impossible. So, age was hindering me from my passion. Since a very young age, instead of running behind masses of the same age group in search of pleasure in fun activities, I found my pleasure in bringing smiles and changes in other lives. 

The greatest challenge that I had faced regarding my passion and performance was when I was in grade 10. That was the most critical time for me as a student, I got a chance to take an opportunity to work in the social field but at that time, it was like the world was against me. All including my teachers, friends, and close ones were asking me to leave the social field and focus on the study as the competition was high and so many of them had expected better performance in SEE from me and all was taking my outside activities as my distraction track. At that time, I was somehow mentally broken, as there was no way to verify, prove and express myself but thanks to those who trusted me even at that time, I got to overcome those challenges. When I succeed to become valley topper at SEE and also get honoured by the various educational awards as well as succeed to become the most active child club member and active volunteer then get honoured with various social recognition awards, I proved myself and also reassured myself that I am following good track. Then, I realized, “we can do everything if we believe in ourselves that everything is possible and if we are dedicated and determined towards it.”

But it wasn’t everything, soon after another challenge was choosing a career goal. Being someone with better results, all were expecting me to choose a science field then be a doctor. But I wanted to do nursing for me. Going against everyone’s decision and choosing something that I wanted to do was hard, but that was on my mind to do better through this field. As a result, I learned that no matter what you do in life, there’ll always be people who’ll talk behind your back. Let them talk, just make sure that your life is so awesome that they always have interesting things to talk about.

Likewise, my journey is going on by challenging myself, overcoming the same cycle goes on. Sometimes my mind is bleached white and I can hardly take a step forward, it’s a regular occurrence. There was a time when I questioned myself -’ Am I on the right track, Am I doing well?’ Then I decided to trust in myself. The next attempt might not be perfect, the second one is better than first. I can do it well, and I can do it better than anybody- This chant is what keeps me going on.

Overall, how was your GTH experience? Can you share about your journey? What do you recall the most? What were the learnings?

Our time here on Earth is a learning experience, and no one is exempt. So, I view life as a continuous learning experience. Every experience makes us grow more.

Starting the journey as Glocal 20 under 20 and continuing it by winning the title for Top 6 Finalist, I couldn’t ask for more, I had seen many more to come along with this title. I got acknowledged on various platforms with the title of “An Empathetic Health activist”. Above all, I am regarded as the first youngest health activist that’s a completely new identity for me. This is for the first time I am being recognized as a health activist other than a child and girls activist or social worker/contributor. Being on the same platform with such young change-makers and being recognized as early game-changers was so overwhelming. Getting connected with Glocal Family as one inspiring teen, I get many more opportunities to grab like a session of “Speak like a pro”, “Self competency Workshop” and “Glocal International Teen Conference” that was designed as per interest and requirements of us teens. I get an opportunity to interact with the most promising industry leaders. Also, I also get to be part of the GITC comprising various workshops, engaging sessions and mentorship followed by Panel Discussion and Presentation.

As for this time, due to pandemic, all programs were done virtually. So, the only way to get connected with each other and learn more from each other was through digital means but there was no compromisation of any chance for teens.

Sharing opinions, a story of life, learnings, experiences always made you relieved and happy. And to earn someone whom you can share is always a blessing that one can always love to have. For me, Glocal Teen Hero is the same blessing, and it is the platform to share my ideas, opinions and also the stage that provides an opportunity to learn from others as well. 

As teenagers are those who are innovative, creative and also one with a great hunger to do something for the development of society and country. For this, we need guidance and GTH has guided me to sharpen out my skills and inspire me to move forward. This has helped me to widen my networking skills and also makes me feel motivated through the inspirational stories from each speaker and colleagues. It was a great opportunity to meet the most promising industry leaders from diverse fields. 

In this journey, I created a lot of beautiful moments with the Glocal Family. Glocal Teen Hero has given me a new title and added a new role as a health activist. Getting a chance to speak up with various great dignitaries to now getting a platform in media and network, Glocal has become the greatest achievement for me. It has added up new zeal and energy on me and boosted me to perform better in upcoming days properly utilizing and representing the prestigious title. There were so many things to learn and to get inspired. This is going to be a lifetime experience and I can’t thank the Glocal Family enough for creating such a great platform for teens like us and motivating rest to contribute as much for their own society and nation. I have still more to do and miles to go and for this; I am sure that Glocal Teen Hero will be there to hear, support, and admire my thought and passion.

Life is a journey with problems to solve, lessons to learn, but most of all, experiences to enjoy.

Message to teenagers!

Do whatever needs to be done, so that you can be everything you want to become. Always remember that you’re awesome and there’s no in this world like you. Never ever let anyone make you believe otherwise.

 I know, being a teenager is tough. A lot of people will give you advice, lots of people have eyes on you but like it’s said, the best thing to do is to have goals and listen to your heart. 

What I have learned from my life is that- Everyone fails. Everyone does things that they’re ashamed of. Everyone is made fun of. Everyone goes through breakups. Everyone faces tough times, don’t single yourself out. Because life is unfair and all you can do is to keep moving on.

Sometimes bad things happen to good people. But never let any of that affect your thinking of who you are or who you should be. Remember, heroes, are made when people believe in themselves. Inspirational stories only happen when you truly believe that everyone, including you, is inspirational from within. 

You can go with the crowd. But remember, that won’t make you the person changing the world. BE what you want to be and achieve what you aim to live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering. Dreams will come true. Amazing things will happen. All you have to do is to believe in how awesome you truly are.

At last, what I want to say is “Age is just a number.” There is nothing that can stop us from reaching our goals if we believe that everything is possible. And above all our dreams don’t have an expiration date and it’s never too early or too late to chase them, and at any given moment we have the power to decide what we want to become and where we want to go. 

 

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