How a teen helps build awareness about an aid organization

January 12, 2017 12:03
Pradyumn Dayal (R) says it is important to let young people discover their passion. Photo: Move4Migrants

We all do small acts of kindness for each other now and then. Some of us even engage in charity, to help strangers we don’t know. Some people take it a lot further. For some people it becomes a passion.

Last April I met Pradyumn Dayal, then 16, as he was finalizing preparations for an awareness march for minorities known as Move4Migrants, an aid organization by the same name, with a focus on minority youth.

The march, held in June, was a success despite a storm warning and intermittent rain. The community bonded, as dozens of people proudly marched together on a stormy morning.

The effort helped put Move4Migrants on the map, enabling access to resources from government and NGOs that preferred to work with proven entities. Before the march, Pradyumn often made 30 or even 50 phone calls before he could secure a single sponsor.

Since that crucial event Move4Migrants has gone on to host a public speaking forum, soccer matches, a health camp, and even a helicopter tour of Hong Kong organized by actor-pilot Micheal Wong.

The children and adolescents that attended these events, most of them South Asian and from underprivileged societies, were able to socialize with the professionals of their choice: doctors, lawyers, movie stars, all professionals highly regarded in their fields. Some of the participants would even win prizes, training programs to help achieve their dreams.

At times though things can get rough. After hundreds of hours of work, people sometimes simply don’t show up. Pradyumn explains that for a lot of a self-improvement workshops, kids just don’t feel like they will get anything from it. Surrounded by poverty and adults who have long since given up on the dream of a career, most of them just stop caring somewhere between the 9th and 11th grade, content to fail school and work a minimum job. Then later in life, they often come to regret their choices, but by then they are usually saddled with responsibilities as adults, or even parents.

So how is it that some people come to be so much more motivated than others, I asked Pradyumn?How might the children become more engaged? And for the matter what has motivated him to go so far?

As it turns out the matter is one of heart.

"It's hard to do so many things without genuinely caring about them,” Pradyumn says. “You can fake a small amount of things in your life that you don’t care about, like a boring class, or a club your parents want you to go to… you get a small amount of applause from the people around you. But some cold morning when you didn’t get enough sleep you won’t be able to force yourself up unless it’s something you really care about and want for yourself. It’s when a kid finds a passion, like one girl who likes animals and wants to work in an animal shelter… that you know you can really help them, to give them the tools they need to succeed.”

"And if you can reach them at that age, it can change the course of their entire life."

Young Hongkonger builds aid organization for migrants (March 23, 2016)

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Move4Migrants participants join a helicopter tour of Hong Kong organized by actor-pilot Micheal Wong. Photo: Move4Migrants

A Hong Kong-based writer from Norway