What happens when youth from across the world get together to discuss and work on identifying the most pressing issues our country and regions are facing? That is when through a quirk of activism, Changemakers’ Room takes place! Changemakers’ Room is an international training forum started by Miks Celmins from Latvia, in the city. Miks moved to Bengaluru in 2016. It is not the only initiative that the forum is running. In December 2017, they also hosted India’s first International Transgender Festival Trans Diamond, and now the team is gearing towards its second edition scheduled in December 2018. They also partner with many universities and organisations in building something that they call “active citizenship hubs” enabling people to identify locally relevant issues, and instead of cribbing about the issues they propose and develop solutions.
50 change makers including social entrepreneurs, activists, NGO practitioners, experts and innovators gathered from across Europe and India for six very intense days to identify some of the most pressing issues our regions face, then they present and propose already developed interventions in response to those issues, and work to develop international projects creating new interventions in Europe and India.
Miks says, “I strongly believe in people, communities, societies and organisations. We all should be working together; exchanging best practices, learning from each other developing locally-relevant interventions, solving some pressing issue of our time. Also, my experience abroad has led me to think that most of the issues our diverse communities face are very much similar or even the same, for instance mental health, within EU, we have 60 million young people between the age of 16 and 25 suffering from some sort of mental illness. In India, the count must be a lot bigger, but it is a major issue that is now being addressed at a macro level in India and in Europe.”
Miks believes that it is a problem that we can be working together on, and together developing solutions that can be globally relevant exchanging best practices, sharing developed tools and practices. And that’s exactly what the initiative does and takes forward with the assistance of these volunteers from all across.
Moving to India, almost four years ago, Miks has not looked back ever since, even though Latvia is very close to his heart, “I always try to make time to be in Europe as much as I can. For now, I see a lot of work to be done in India, and specifically about the Europe-India cooperation, so surely the next five years I see myself more in India then in Europe.”
‘Change makers’ happens every six months the last time was in Goa in April 2018 and the next Bengaluru edition is in October this year.
Speaking to some of the previous volunteers, Indre Daunoraviciute from Lithuania says, “I was happy to be selected to volunteer in Bengaluru in 2016 for the Changemakers’ Room. The atmosphere, energy and all the high-level authorities of Asia and Europe I met were fascinating. There are so many issues across the world, but it calms me when I know Make Room is on to solve them.”
Young Mumbaiker, Pragya Lodha says, “My passion is mental health, I am very thankful to Make Room for creating such an ecosystem where I can meet like-minded people, learn from their best practices. Now, together with three organisations across Europe, we are developing a mental health curriculum using non-formal learning methodologies to foster importance of mental health in academic education for youth.”