Over 50 percent of the world's population is under 27, making the youth the world’s dominant demographic group. The zeal, the passion and the entrepreneurial spirit applied by this demography while working with and finding solutions to the pertinent challenges that are shaping the future of humanity cannot be wasted. This realisation led the Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF) to facilitate the initiation and expansion of the Global Shapers Community. The Global Shapers are a global youth community, which works to connect and collaborate with each other to give a louder, more impactful voice to global challenges.
Today, the community includes more than 5,300 young change makers around the world, who are organized as city-based Hubs in more than 450 cities. From teaching employable skills to underprivileged groups to saving public libraries, from promoting the use of renewable energies to making young girls aware about menstruation and hygiene, the Global Shapers have been shaping the dialogue and actions of their communities to the best of their abilities.
Nepal's own Global Shapers Hub came into being in 2012, when Aashmi Rajya Laxmi Rana, herself a Young Global Leader, founded the Global Shapers Kathmandu Hub. This resulted in the coming together of more than 15 young people from various backgrounds - the arts, journalism, research, entrepreneurship, business and social activism. The first year allowed Hub members to get to know each other better and explore various avenues to amplify the impact of each other's work. Regular meetings with national and international personalities from different fields added to the knowledge of the Hub members,helping Shapers aspire to plan bigger to create a larger and more sustainable impact in society. The Hub also reached out to Young Global Leaders visiting Nepal to hear of their journeys and lessons learned.
Together the Hub members implemented a number of social projects. Their # Kathmandu gram, campaign engaged Instagram users to document and promote social issues in Kathmandu through photos. The Young Adult Mentorship Project (YAMP) provided career counselling and skill-development trainings to marginalised young adults. Similarly, after being selected as one of the 40 Hubs around the world to connect and contribute to the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, the Kathmandu Hub organised a panel discussion on Public Private Partnerships, bringing together representatives from the private sector, bureaucracy and policy makers and also facilitated the participation of Dr Swarnim Wagle, member of the National Planning Commission, to represent Nepal in the annual meeting.
The Gorkha Earthquake of April 25, 2015, brought the country to its knees. Almost 9000 lives were lost and livelihoods and infrastructure suffered catastrophic damage. The natural disaster had a huge impact on the course of action of the Kathmandu Hub. Within days of the first quake, the Hub members sprang into action to provide crucial rescue and relief services. Through coordination and relief work starting in those uncertainty-filled early days, the Shapers’ work landed them in the forefront of post-quake relief and recovery efforts.
The collaborative spirit of the initiatives had the Shapers team up with Nepal’s Young Global Leaders -Dr Tshering Lama of Child Reach Nepal and MP Gagan Thapa, to provide relief materials to 14 VDCs of Sindhupalchowk district that were hit the hardest by the quake. Approximately 12,500 households -over 50,000 people - benefitted from these relief activities. The team was also able to save over 30 lives in the post-earthquake period. However, unlike many civil society initiatives in the aftermath of the earthquake, the Shapers are also focusing on longer-term rehabilitation and reconstruction initiatives.
Aligned with these objectives, the Hub is working on a number of projects. One of the first such projects was a WASH (Water, Sanitation and Health) project that provided hygiene packs –buckets filled with essentials such as soap, toothpaste and tooth brushes, sanitary napkins, laundry soap, and others to 1150 households - more than 5700 people - in rural VDCs of Lalitpur. As families recovered from the quake and rushed to build homes and gather resources, hygiene and sanitation issues were seen to be taking a backseat, leaving hundreds and thousands of people vulnerable to diseases;the hygiene packs would play a preventive role, potentially saving hundreds of lives.
The Shapers are currently working to rebuild a key health post in an area called Tipeni in Sindhupalchowk. The health post had been operational for more than 20 years, providing medical services to hundreds of thousands of locals of the region. Even though the health post was completely destroyed by the quake, the team there worked around the clock to provide emergency services to all victims. Once rebuilt, the health post will provide services to residents of more than 10 surrounding VDCs and over 4000 people.
The Hub is also helping Child Reach Nepal build 20 Semi-Permanent Classrooms in remote parts of Sindhupalchowk. The logic is to give children an attractive learning environment as an incentive to continue going to school. It is particularly challenging to persuade children in villages to stay in school; a long break might mean a break altogether from completing their education.
Nepal will take years,if not decades, to recover from this calamity. The efforts of a group of people, although crucial, are but a very small step. To take these issues, and a message of solidarity to a larger platform, the Shapers are tapping into their global network and organising an international conference in November 2015. SHAPE South Asia: Building Sustainable Cities, the conference,will lead to critical reflection six months after the earthquake with focus on how South Asian cities can be more prepared for disasters. With Global Shapers from around the world participating, it will align Kathmandu with Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Currently, the members of the Kathmandu Hub of Global Shapers are Aashmi Rana, Amod Rajbhandari, Ankur Agrawal, Anne McGuinness, Arpit Agrawal, Gaurav Kandel, Hitman Gurung, Kaushal Silwal, Lokesh Todi, Louisa Zhang, Pushpa Basnet, Rajneesh Bhandari, Riken Maharjan, Shivanth Pande, Shristi Mishra, Sneh Rajbhandari, Surath Giri, Utsav Shakya and Vidhan Rana.