Meet Zobayda Talukder. Community change maker at age sixteen.

On UN World Children's Day (#KidsTakeOver), celebrating the positive change young people can create, we wanted to introduce our own hero, Zobayda Talukder!

Four years ago, Max Foundation started working in her village South Kalipura, Bangladesh. Zobayda took on a role as 'adolescent's representative' in the community support group; organised as part of our programme. In their meetings, community members discuss issues related to for example hygiene, child nutrition and maternal care.

Zobayda was barely sixteen, but she was armed with a clear drive to help her village overcome poverty and disease. She explains: "as soon as Max Foundation started, I just realised immediately that this work was extremely important for people's health, especially of mothers and children. So I wanted to help out"

Photo: Zobayda at 16, working with others on a "social map" of the village. Each household is analysed in terms of the number of children, whether they have access to sanitation and clean water.

A teenage mentor for others
Receiving no salary or direct personal benefit, something propelled Zobayda into taking on a leadership role. She helped register all the children and monitor the situation in households regarding sanitary hygiene. She showed others how to use handwashing devices, sang songs in the education meetings and motivated community members to use sanitary towels. 

"But the path was not easy', she tells us. "We faced challenges of involving people in the activities and getting them to invest financially. When they understood the benefits for their health better, and that the government offers subsidies to acquire latrines for the poorest families, they started to come on board". 

Now, five years later, a grown up young woman, she talks about her experience in this video:

The government has named her village a 'model village' which was later promoted to a 'healthy village' (one among 64 other healthy villages in the district). This means there is no open defecation anymore, no water scarcity, improved and hygenic sanitation facilities for everyone, all children attend school and all pregnant women receive at least 4 prenatal check-ups

Zobayda: "All 178 households in our village have clean water and proper facilities, and we are continuing the activities ourselves. I feel very happy and proud of my village that we have come this far."

There is more and more appreciation for child leadership in society. That's why Max Foundation involves youth and children with particular tasks. When they get a chance to grow up healthy, and they are listened to, children can become real change makers in their community. Just like Zobayda. Her achievements have inspired us all. 

 If you are interested in supporting this work, or if you have questions: please contact our communication manager  Bram Pauwels

(Article by Ania Sharwood)

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