Tales of the Tribe - Ahana's Social Venture on Mental Health Awareness as a 9th Grader
Updated: May 26
“One of the subjects I was studying in school was called Global Perspectives. In that class we’d learn all about the world's current affairs, and more importantly the problems that were occuring on a global scale. We’d learn about topics such as unemployment and mental health. We would see the numbers, some case studies -- and it was sitting in those classes that I could feel the need for me to be out there, making a difference.
I remember once we had to do a team project around Disease and Health. We ended up picking our subtopic as Mental Health and that’s when everything began. When I got down to researching and looking at statistics, is when I saw the numbers in front of my eyes. That’s when it hit me how many millions of people were going through it.
During that time I used to also have monthly sessions with my education counsellor. With her I’d often discuss my dream to do something for the betterment of the community. Each time I’d see her, I’d come up with 3-4 community project ideas! And she would always encourage me, by telling me that she sees me as a changemaker. She appreciated the passion I had and that made me feel empowered. She and I both recognised that I needed to start somewhere. That’s the time, when through her, that I got introduced to Tribes For Good…”
“I remember first filling up an online form, and there I had to write all about why I wanted to be part of their Young Changemakers Programme. I had to even write about how I wanted to make a change. I was so excited to find a platform to do what I’d been so eager to pursue.
After a couple of days, I was informed that I had moved onto the next round which was a telephonic interview. I shared all my ideas and spoke about my passion to bring a change, and in the end just hoped to get selected. Soon, I received the call, I was in, and there was no looking back after that!
My weekly telephonic sessions with my mentor began. We discussed the issues that I felt most passionate about, we even had field visits like going to a foundation and talking to women about sanitary napkins. Being on the field and in touch with other changemakers, was so motivating. I could see things lining up, for me to take a step and do something good myself.
Finally when it was my turn to launch my own social initiative under the guidance of my mentor - after a lot of debating, going back and forth - we zeroed down on Mental Health.
We contemplated finding the best platform to express ourselves, and through several discussions we finally zeroed down on doing a Teen Mental Health Podcast! It was a seemingly new concept, and we were excited at its potential.
My mentor was my guiding light through it all, through them I found the right platform to go live, learnt to pace myself so I don’t do everything to quickly and it was also through their suggestions that I got my childhood friend and classmate - Zahabiya to get on board and empower this project by working on it with me... she was just as passionate as me, so we got to together and finally launched our podcast - Little Big Problems…”
“We recorded our first episode with just two of us talking about Teen Mental Health, on an app specialised for Podcasts. We even worked on a script and everything! It was our dream to be featured on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. We were really nervous too, we didn’t know what the response would be like, whether people would understand what we were talking about, and this would actually help.
Our mentors were the one that supported us and motivated us to keep going. I still remember when our first Podcast hit 100 views -- it was a surreal feeling. There was even a stranger who commented saying that she loved it and that’s when I knew that I had finally taken a large step on the road of contributing to a better world!
Before we knew it, we were on Apple Podcasts and Spotify too -- knowing that anybody having a bad day could listen to our podcast and feel better was just gratifying. We went on to do a couple of other podcasts, with different themes!
So at the end of this beautiful journey, when my Young Changemakers Programme and last telephonic conversation with my mentor happened -- it was a bittersweet feeling. I remember my mentor saying, ‘Don’t stop here, we want you to take it forward - and if you ever need our help, we’re always there!’
Tribes For Good gave me a platform to become a changemaker, and tools to help my community. It has made me a better person, and hopefully through this podcast we’ve made someone out there happier…”
Ahana Sonpal, 9th Grade Student from Hill Spring has started Little Big Problems a podcast focussed on increasing awareness about mental health.
Applications for our Young Changemakers Program are open. Apply now to be the change that you wish to see!