Uzdah Mohammad Jawaid - Primary Short-listed Nominee - Social Volunteer Awards 2021
I was brought up in downtown Srinagar, Kashmir. My childhood life was not-as-beautiful as I hoped it to be. I was 4 years old when my father expired in an unprecedented, ghastly mishap. I grew up with my grandparents while my mother was completing her post graduate medical studies and subsequent medical practising abroad. In 2013 my grandmother was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour and was operated upon while I had my secondary board examinations. Subsequently, I lost my grandmother in November 2014. I passed my higher secondary board examination in December 2015 and subsequently appeared for the competitive entrance examinations in 2016. I couldn’t do the required formalities for the admission process as I missed my counselling session due to the internet ban imposed because of an unrest political scenario. Meanwhile, I was awarded the prestigious scholarship AICTE- PMSSS and came to know about my selection through it on the radio. Furtherance I got admitted to the prestigious Department of Chemical Engineering, Jadavpur University. Initially the days at the University were difficult practically due to the language barrier and cultural gap, but it wasn’t anything unmanageable. In 2019 my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer, and he passed away. 2019 has been a year of uncertainty for Kashmiris at large, as the implications of revoking the Article 370 are still unknown and may tend towards appalling consequences. The year 2020 was uncertain for the whole world with COVID-19 pandemic raging like anything. It was in the same year I graduated, and I applied for the prestigious SBI- Youth For India fellowship, where I was selected out of 70,000+ applicants. I was able to actively pursue my co-curricular activities at a competitive level till recent times. I was awarded the gold medal at district level for Wu-Shu, Taekwondo and Boxing. I pursed stamp collection and photography as a hobby, winning the bronze medal at the state level respectively. I was ranked third in 2015 by the Government of India- Skiing Course. I have been instrumental in organising a mixed-gender sports initiative at Jadavpur University and was an organizing committee member for the annual cultural and film festival at my university. I authored for Wande Magazine in the year 2019. I also interned at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and researched on increasing the shelf life of Anthocyanins, thereby improving the food quality standards and getting a chance at improving the economic conditions of the farming community. I am currently working as a rural development fellow under SBI- Youth For India in Bodoland, Assam (India-Bangladesh border); a conflict area torn apart by CAA & NRC where people are tagged as ‘illegal Bangladeshi immigrants’ and detained just like that. I have volunteered for imparting elementary education to students especially during communication blackouts, curfews and COVID-19 pandemic in Kashmir; the densest militarised zone in the world. I have also imparted elementary education to children in blighted areas in Kolkata, along with imparting practical education to children in and around the Sundarbans, West Bengal.
VOLUNTEERING FOR ME
It’s easy to forget about the community while it continues to suffer due to the growing inequalities and atrocities. With a little effort, though, we can really bridge that expanding gap through various acts - one such act being volunteering. As a volunteer, one decides to act on their own accord, free from pressure to act from others, ultimately generated from our desire and enthusiasm to help. The sense of achievement coming with it, makes me feel like I have a right to belong to this world.
Life has always been a teacher for me. It has carved its own new paths that I have followed. There have been multiple hardships in my way since childhood. In this path, I even took some life-changing decisions rather quickly which could have been thought of patiently instead. As I retrospect my journey so far, the biggest regret I come across is on a broader perspective; I’m yet to make my mark in this society. I am yet to accomplish something of value for this world. And in terms of qualitative and quantitative betterment for the same, I’ve been volunteering occasionally since 2016. I try looking for opportunities which can help me reach my zeal of doing something good for the society we live in. I do so in order to get a sense of self accomplishment. So that I don’t feel empty any more and that I am able to look myself in the eye while looking into the mirror. I don’t know how much I’ll be able to change if at all, but something, somewhere will definitely change, eventually. Change is not sudden, it takes time and I hope my effort paves a way for a change, making the world a better place and an equal one.
It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.
― Nelson Mandela