A post grad journalism student of SIMC, Pune with a passion for using words to get my message across in the most unique ways possible and curiosity is the force that drives me to learn and experience more every day.
For crusading against alcohol and spreading awareness on education, 17-year-old Surjeet Lodhi was awarded Diana Award this year. The boy who hails from Madhya Pradesh was conferred with the prestigious award at a virtual ceremony for advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The award is established in the memory of Diana, the late Princess of Wales. It is given to young people between the age of 9 and 25 appreciating their humanitarian efforts. The award is given out by the charity of the same name, which her two sons support – Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex. This year, the award was conferred to 400 people across the world.
Surjeet and his mother have been victims of domestic abuse at the hands of his alcoholic father. This triggered him to bring a change in the mindset of the people in his village, which is situated in the Bidisha district of Madhya Pradesh.
With the help and support of the Gram Panchayat, Surjeet managed to shut five liquor shops in the nearby villages to curb alcohol abuse, which the men in the village usually commit. Besides, he also helped more than 120 students in his village get access to education and continue school.
The 17-year-old also had the support of Bal Mitra Gram (BMG), a flagship programme of the Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation (KSCF) team and children's councils. He organized awareness campaigns in five villages and reached out to 410 people, including Village Council members.
His initiative inspired children and women from Bhilay and Sahwa villages, as well. They joined hands with him to demand finance for children's education instead of wasting them on alcohol. Finally, after a two-year-long crusade, he managed to close down five liquor shops in 2019.
The village communities also keep a close watch on male community members' alcohol consumption and violence against women and children. "I am extremely proud to receive this award, and it has increased my accountability and responsibility towards the children of my country," Surjeet said, as reported by News18.
He further said that he would work harder towards educating children and intensifying the de-addiction drive. He added that he would follow the footsteps of his role model Nobel Peace Laureate Shri Kailash Satyarthi.
Last year, in March, Surjeet along with few youth groups, and Children Council took the initiative to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in his village. His team also ensured that the villagers have food and follow the government protocols for the coronavirus pandemic.
He also actively promoted the COVID-19 vaccination drive in his village and ensured no cases of child trafficking or child labour occurred.
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