Saumya Tomar is an 18 years old Activist from Ghaziabad. Currently, She is serving as the Youngest Community Well-Being Ambassador 2020-2021 at Light Up India, advocating the need for socio-emotional learning. To address the most affected & deprived communities, She has researched the potential Sources of Oppression, POSCO Act & Ecosystem Mapping, through the lens of a juvenile care child and has worked on developing a Community Project for the same.
She has also designed a full-fledged SEL Module (Socio-Emotional Learning) incorporating the elements of activities to be taken up at the grass-roots level and led out potential livelihood opportunities for the youth in Juvenile Care Centers. The project has been selected among the Top 3 and will be further developed by Light Up India and Unbottle Emotions. Furthermore, She is also the Local Representative of her district (Ghaziabad) at the Young India Foundation, which aims to resolve India’s gerontocracy by assisting younger candidates to contest at the local level which is devoid of legal age restrictions.
She is one of the Finalists of Wai Wai Glocal Teen Hero India 2020. We had a few conversations with her regarding her projects;
How was your experience when you were announced as Top 6 Finalist of Wai Wai Glocal Teen Hero India?
In short, I didn’t believe it. It’s an honor that still sounds like a far-fetched dream, but I’m happy that the selection committee saw the application of my value, dedication, and commitment to innovation.
What were the difficulties that you experienced in your journey?
I wouldn’t say I’ve had first-hand experience with big difficulties. But throughout my journey, convincing others of my sincere notion of “community service” has been particularly difficult. People often dismiss you thinking it’s just a short-term “school project” and the marginalized communities often refrain from having open conversations. And I think that’s fair. This just indicates that we, as young activists, have to maintain our integrity. It shouldn’t be like you just show up at your nearest basti for a day or two and expect people to embrace you. It’s our responsibility as informed citizens to talk to these people every week, and that’s when they start trusting you and reveal their problems. Nonetheless, this is still a challenge we are yet to fully overcome.
What motivated you to become an activist?
I wouldn’t exactly call myself an “Activist.” I’ve seen my maternal grandma with a brown rosemary chain she murmurs prayers against in chaos. And I think we should hold everyone the same way. As such, everyone has a moral responsibility to fulfill apart from their essential work persona.
Growing up, the value of “compassionate love for all, especially the poor and marginalized” didn’t hold any personal value for me until the day I visited the dark and dingy classrooms where children of the slums nearby used to study. The narrow dilapidated, overcrowded lanes and squatter settlements made me question myself every time I turned a blind eye on recognizing my privilege. I began my journey by joining my school’s Social Service Club campaigning about the importance of hygiene, equality, & education in a basti-near my school. And it wasn’t until we organized the first charity event for children of ‘Shiksha Kendra’ that made me understand that the wish-fulfilment aspect served as a means to temporarily cheer up these children from their otherwise painful lives. After that, it was an almost beautiful road where I was able to work with different people. Serving as the Vice President of Rotaract Club of Kaushambi Youth for two consecutive years, we undertook many small-scaled social and societal projects at large. Being a Counter Speech Fellow at YLAC India and Instagram, I was able to use visual storytelling to raise awareness on 5 different social themes: mental wellbeing, body-positivity, gender equality, bullying, and sustainability.
A year later, I wish to see myself as an entrepreneur who transforms the world through her creative vision, artistic innovation, and unmatched strategy.
Your current involvement?
Currently, I’m a Community Well-being Ambassador at Light Up India, advocating the need for socio-emotional learning. I also serve as the Local Representative of my district (Ghaziabad) at The Young India Foundation, where we aim to resolve India’s gerontocracy by assisting younger candidates to contest at the local level which is devoid of legal age restrictions.
I value individuality and creativity and hence wish to be anchoring at the crossroads of arts and advocacy on my journey as a young change-maker. As such, I’m an alum of SCAD Rising Star Pre-College Program, Aspire India Global Leaders Summer School, Youth Age Leadership Program with ‘We The Young’ and an upcoming selected participant in Global Citizen Academy as a Shawn Mendes Scholarship recipient.
Recently, I’ve been involved as an Activist-Designer in a course called “Frugal Science” at Stanford University, under Professor Manu Prakash. Being in a global team of university-level graduates and mentors, we currently aim to intertwine the concept by designing a frugal backpack that explores complex phenomena in nature. The design includes the usage of low-cost tools such as GSR Sensor, DIY Microscope, Bioreactor, O2 & Soil, Humidity, and Air sensors, etc to detect the invisible aspects of nature. The goal is also to leverage the output against a cost-versus-performance rubric & break the accessibility barrier. As I yearn to tap into the ability of visual arts to tackle social maladies, I would also spend my upcoming year as a selected participant of the Eureka Young Researcher’s Program, studying the intersection of Creative Intelligence and Social Communities.
What are your plans?
Translating the belief of “compassion towards strangers” through my experiences into a social whiz and my newfound enthusiasm as a design technocrat, I’m working to develop an app I’ve named “Hoomans.”
The leader of a fast-track world, my app will alert Hoomans (people) if someone in close vicinity is struggling with personal dilemmas—small or large. We will present personalized challenges for daily app-users, prompting them to make at least one person happy each day. These tasks would range from singing a song to sharing a meal with the possibility of even hosting a full-fledged event by asking for further assistance through the “Ask a Volunteer” function. Completion of these daily challenges will earn users points & top scorers would compete to win cash prizes. Those with the best ratings from their matched “Hoomans” would also be in the run for the titles of “Hooman of the Week” and “Hooman of the Month.”
I am currently prototyping and designing my app’s interface, and I plan to finish building it up in college. Let me know how the idea sounds!
What is your message to the teenagers?
Dream, Dare, and Deliver; because nobody else is going to do it for you.