CHILDREN'S PARTICIPATION – September 15 2022 SOS Child Club Pokhara: A Champion for Change It is a typical Saturday morning at SOS Children's Village Pokhara. While most children are in a weekend mood, a group of twelve children quietly walks through the gates of their respective homes and meets at the Child Club building in the premises of SOS Children's Village Pokhara. Once inside the building, they gather around the big table and start discussing on various topics with full of determination. It is a regular meeting day of SOS Child Club Pokhara, where children are discussing their action plans for the remaining year of 2022, led by the President Pema (name changed). Pema takes out the calendar to prepare the action plan from her bag and initiates a discussion on what kinds of activities the child club members can organise in the location. "What are our plans? Please share your ideas," the sixth-grader asks. Club members bring up different ideas, including fundraising activities such as the 'Fancy Fair' festival during the annual village picnic, distributing dustbins to each house, and organising drawing and quiz competitions, among other activities. Pema also suggests they should organise awareness-raising programmes on child safeguarding and mental health, which her fellow club members nod in approval. Pema was elected President of SOS Child Club Pokhara this year in June. She is determined to work actively especially on the issues related to children's rights, mental health, gender equality, sanitation and hygiene. "I am thrilled to be part of the club," says Pema. "The child club has given me a platform through which I can serve my Village. I feel that there is a lot I can do to contribute." Pema also informs that the club has been carrying out cleaning activities every Saturday in order to tidy up the surrounding areas around the village. SOS Children's Village Pokhara introduced SOS Child Club Pokhara in 2010 with the objective of providing a platform where the children can develop and enhance their leadership skills and capacity. The club also focuses on encouraging children to speak up against any issues they come across and report to the relevant authority including the issues related to child safeguarding. SOS Child Club Pokhara, under the leadership of Pema, is the 11th batch of Child Club of SOS Children's Village Pokhara, which consists of 12 club members under the age of 18. Another eighth grader Karma (name changed), the Treasurer of the child club, says that involvement in different child club activities has been an enriching experience in terms of gaining knowledge and skills. "The child club activities have taught me ways to improve life skills and leadership quality. I feel that I have become a much more confident speaker who can now take the lead while organising different events," says Karma. And indeed, that confidence and the spirit of giving back to the village they live in have already paved a path to achieving positive outcomes for the child club. "As a part of our fundraising activity, recently, we successfully sold SOS Logo printed T-shirts to the community. The profits we earn will be invested in improving our village. Since the previous child club used the money they earned to buy dustbins and sports materials for us, we are also planning to do something similar," says Karma. Karma also informs that the club has its own bank account and they have maintained a proper record keeping of income and expenditure files. Like Pema and Karma, Tsering (name changed), the Vice President of the club, also feels that the club's main purpose is to give back to the village they live in. "We, as club members, aim to create a positive impact in our village, regardless of the number of activities we organise. Our achievement is to see everyone in the village being loved and secure," says Tsering with a smile.