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Our core work is around ‘identities’ - exploring how they get constructed and exposing the dynamics of that construction so that it allows for identity to become a unifying rather than a divisive factor.
Yakjah is a network of youth for peace building; a non partisan platform for young people to discover their own excellence, attributes and talent for personal transformation and social change. Through experiential workshops, youth across different communities, faith traditions and regions learn how to create a unifying perspective and generative leadership for peaceful co-existence, advancement of knowledge and craft a progressive vision for their regions.
Since 2002, Yakjah has been working with the youth of Jammu & Kashmir for peace building in the state. Our work aims to open spaces for critical enquiry, cooperative enquiry, self enquiry and collective enquiry. Yakjah’s thought leaders are trained as facilitators, healers, counsellors, planners, storytellers, campaigners, peace advocates, mentors, community workers and social change agents.
At the core of our idea lies the vision to bring local and global perspectives into a common space to create unifying and just notions of peace.
Yakjah has been working in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh since 2002. It formerly registered as a non –profit organization in 2010. In the last eight years, Yakjah has touched around 1200 young people, girls and boys in the age group of 17 -29 years, across all the three regions. Yakjah promotes and encourages gender parity, the participation of women in political, developmental and social processes.
Yakjah workshops help young people to discover their potential and imagination for transforming conflictual relationships to harmonious ones, responding to conflicts, external stimuli, crisis and challenging situations in a creative way. They learn skills to negotiate, mediate, active listening and dialogue. The workshops help them to understand different concepts like interconnectedness, inclusiveness, gender, self-transcendence, leadership, power, peace, security, justice and reconciliation. Workshops also open a space for self-inquiry and reflect on emotions like fear, aggression, hate, desolation etc.
Yakjah also provides mentoring to help young people transit to become peace practitioners and changemakers. Yakjah workshops not only prepare the young people to become global thought leaders but also active members of their society for social change and progress.
Last updated: December 2019
How to make a donation
1) Directly sponsor or partner for our workshops / Focussed Group Discussions 2) Support our Mental Health Programme
The impact of your donation
1) With support from local and national partner institutions we have organized workshops. Touched around 3500 youth out of which 100 are trained as community workers, peace advocates, healers, facilitators
How to promote this organisation
1) Writing about our work and interventions 2) Support and sponsor our activities
How you can participate
1) Participate in workshops and help as rapporteur 2) Photographers and videographers to help us make short videos to promote our work 3) Help us online in conceptualizing and writing background notes for conferences 4) Raise resources /funds for our activities 5) Offer skills as resource persons
Youth Expression and Leadership
It is the core programme of the organization which focusses on identity , the primary source of conflict in the region, Under this programme residential workshops on ‘Conscious Leadership and Social Change are organized. Youth in the age group of 17 to 27 years from diverse backgrounds of faith, traditions, heritage, ethnicity, sect, caste, region, culture, political and conflict experience come together for an experiential understanding of social, gender and political constructs. The workshop model is based on individual healing, self- transcendence and transformation. The workshop helps to create an enabling and holistic space for leadership and interpersonal skills including empathy, mindfulness, critical inquiry and responses to external crisis or conflicts.
At second level Training of Trainer workshops on "Peacebuilding, Community Engagement and Leadership" participants are trained to become healers, facilitators,peace advocates and social change agents
Projects under the program:
A) Focused Group Discussions:
Borne out of residential workshops Focused Group Discussions uses a ‘talking head tool’ to discuss contemporary and contentious social, political and conflict-related issues in a participatory and dialogical manner. The participants are generally young people from the formal and informal education system.
B) Mentorship Fellows
We are developing this project to impart training to Yakjites who have graduated from our two levels of workshops. We are currently designing the Fellowship course content. Any suggestions and inputs are welcome.
Mental Health and Well-Being
In the chaotic and conflict-ridden region of Jammu and Kashmir, it extremely difficult to cope with the situation and the debilitating atmosphere. Therefore it requires critical intervention. The program includes three dimensions. These are Research, Training and Access to Mental Health services , Advocacy and Awareness . The prototype of project Access to Mental Health is being tested.
Storytelling Media Project
Residential workshops opened an organic space for storytelling to emerge as a potent and powerful tool. Most significantly in the context of single ‘stories of separateness and division’ that have been told and retold to the people in the region, the participants discovered that the stories they had heard about each other were ‘narrow, limiting and stereotypical’. The experience of discovering that people are more than one single story was quite profound which led to the idea of collecting and documenting stories of individuals and communities in the region so as to challenge the ‘single story’, that one had heard. This idea gave birth to the Storytelling Project.
Media and history sources overwhelmingly describe the regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh as a single zone of conflict– overshadowed by a single story of violence and division. It also projects the people of all the three regions as ‘bitter opponents who cannot reconcile or unify because of cultural differences, political positions and conflict’. The emphasis on disparities rather than on possibilities confines people into their comfort zones and thus arrest their worldview to only perceiving each other through a distorted and manipulative political lens. The Storytelling Project challenges this distortion. Standard stories obviously miss out on the diversity and complexity of human journey, every day lived in experiences, cultural similarities shared histories and goodness to abide beneath the outer shell of constructed identities that have created over the years. Storytelling Project typically breaks these plaque walls to create a new space of understanding, mutual respect and possibilities of creating a unifying perspective which tethers on the idea of inclusive diversity and human potential to transform relationships.The underlying idea of the project is:
- To encourage self-learning and empathy through conversations held across the three regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh within different communities
- To transform the single story of conflict into a diverse platform for mutual understanding
- To break stereotypes and dispel prejudices
- To celebrate diversity of the land
- To create a unifying perspective and the idea of interconnectedness
- To empower youth as confident writers and advocates for diverse communities
- To foster a new next generation of socially-conscious leaders across the state
- To foreground personal narratives and stories of young people as told by them directly