WFUNA Mission Possible Agent of Change Alumnus
The WFUNA’s Mission Possible program has been encouraging youth worldwide to identity and tackle local solutions important to them and their communities. Since 2015, the program has reached nearly 400 students that have implemented and managed youth-led development projects addressing one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While the Mission Possible program lasts only five to seven months, WFUNA Mission Possible students make a commitment to serve as lifelong Agents of Change and carry forth the newly acquired skills, tools, competencies, and insights.
The Mission Possible team decided to catch up with Nandan Konety, a tenth grade Mission Possible alumnus from Vidyashilp Academy in Bangalore, India to learn about his work as an Agent of Change. After having worked on two Mission Possible projects: Team Corona (SDG 7) and Project Enact (SDG 11), Nandan continues to initiate development initiatives in and around his community. His new project is a campaign to give sight to 20 elderly people from villages in Bangalore (SDG 3). We thank Nandan for taking out the time to provide us with the following insights:
Q) When did you first start working towards the development of communities around you?
Ever since I was in preschool, I have felt an obligation to help…it was just the right thing to do in my eyes. I think that everyone has good intentions, the important thing is to take those good intentions and convert them into actions that better the community. WFUNA gave me the opportunity to channel beliefs towards something concrete that [makes]a tangible difference in people’s lives.
Q) We know that you have previously worked on two Mission Possible projects — how was your experience with those?
I really learnt a lot from both [of] my experiences... The projects I did changed my life path. I think of myself as someone who is socially conscious and aware of issues going on around the world. If not for WFUNA, I wouldn’t be the kind of person [I am now]. The projects taught me how to [turn] my thoughts into action.
Q) We recently came to know that you are leading a personal project to help elders in selected rural areas receive cataracts surgery. What inspired you to help these elders?
When I heard about WFUNA, I knew I wanted to do [Mission Possible], and [this feeling was] the same with my current project. [With] any volunteering opportunity that comes up, [I find that] it is the right thing to do so might as well do it. I make the same decisions I think most people [would] make but what I do differently is that I listen to every opportunity that comes my way because you don’t know if something will work out, [especially] if you don’t listen to the idea first.
Q) What has been your biggest challenge while leading your personal project?
The biggest challenge had to be doing [my personal project] all alone. Usually I work in a team and this [was]the first time I tried to raise funds alone, which was a big challenge. I couldn’t bank on anyone to get half the funds [and] had to do it all myself — which was a challenge. But this can also be a good thing.
You learn how to work alone, you learn to trust yourself, and most importantly you understand that you on your own can make a difference. You learn that it doesn’t take a half dozen people which drove me at least. I understand that one person can really make a difference, which makes me want to do more.
Q) What role does youth play in development?
Young people play a major role in development and it is critical that [they] keep getting involved [since they] bring something new to the table. New ideas and new perspectives [are needed] when the same people consistently fail to address an issue — it is vital to bring [in youth] that will.
Q) What advice would you give to a youth member that is passionate about working for development of their local communities?
For me, the major challenge was getting started and WFUNA was the starting block I needed. So, I would tell [youth] to not wait around for opportunities but [instead] to look for [an issue] around [them]. Once you take that first initiative, there is little that can stop you. Another [is] that one person — [no] matter their age, no matter their skills — one person who tries, can impact another person’s life greatly.
Q) What advice would you give to these youth?
It’s all about voicing your opinion and being confident. If you see an issue and have a [solution], be proactive. Don’t sit around because each person has new different ideas, and you never know if [your ideas will] make a real breakthrough, or find a more effective solution. [More] importantly, each person can make a difference.
To learn more about Nandan’s work, refer to the links below:
Mission Possible Project: Team Corona
Mission Possible Project: Project Enact