By Shomy Hasan Chowdhury (YES 2011-2012, Bangladesh, placed by PAX in Cheboygan, MI)
YES alumna Shomy Hasan Chowdhury was recently featured in Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2021 as an Honoree for Social Impact for her work with Awareness 360, an international NGO she co-founded with another Bangladeshi, Rijve Arefin. Awareness 360 focuses on raising awareness about clean water, sanitation and hygiene.
Awareness 360 is an award-winning, global, youth-led non-profit, that empowers over 1,500 young people in 23 countries to do community service projects in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To date, more than 150,000 people have been benefited through our projects. We provide young people the skills, tools, resources, and mentorship that they need to identify a community issue and conduct their own social action projects. Our mission is to mobilize young people as a force for good.
One of our focus areas is Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH), thus supporting UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6. We raise awareness about clean water and sanitation, menstruation, sexual and reproductive health, mental health & well-being, neglected tropical diseases, etc. among vulnerable and marginalized communities, such as sewage workers, sex workers, under-resourced school children, slum dwellers, refugees, etc. We foster behavioral change and the adopting of healthy habits by helping them realize their long-term impact in reducing extreme poverty.
Being included in Forbes 30 Under 30, as well as being spotlighted as the Featured Honoree for Social Impact, definitely is an incredible recognition. My team and I are thankful and motivated to work even harder. Moreover, I see it as a validation of the significance of WASH. Hopefully, this will inspire more young people to take action for causes they deeply care about.
I can never deny the contribution of the YES program to my journey as an activist because that is truly where it all started! During my YES year, I completed 460 hours of community service, which not only gave me the opportunity to pick up necessary skills such as leadership, communication, project management, and networking skills, but also instilled values such as empathy and compassion in me. My YES experience truly shaped me to be a better person and a better leader. I have learned to embrace diversity and foster intercultural understanding. I am immensely thankful to my entire YES family, the YES Alumni Bangladesh Association, the U.S. Embassy, the U.S. Department of State, and everyone associated with my YES chapter for all the support and encouragement over the years.