Natassha Selvaraj

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Being our Future: Tell me about how you started your journey as an activist?

 

I was always very passionate about things even as a child. Even as a kid, I would always stand up against injustice.

When I got the opportunity to raise money for a cause I was passionate about, I took it. I started spreading awareness about child trafficking through my book.

Most of my activism is online. I also attend events and speak about issues like child trafficking, child marriages, the cycle of poverty, and I let people know about the actions that can be taken to combat these issues.

 

Being our Future: Did you ever face any backlash because you started to take action at such a young age?

 

Most people have been very supportive of the work I do. However, they are a few people who mock me and say things like, “you don’t really think you can change the world, do you?” I usually reply with, “No, but I can change the world for one person. For me, that is more than enough.”

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Being our Future: What was the process and steps you had to go through to write a book?

 

I was only 9 years old when I wrote my first book. I remember writing the stories down on a piece of paper. My mom typed it into her laptop. My aunt did some of the illustrations, my dad edited the book and sent it to a publisher to get it published.

 

Being our Future: Where do the proceeds from your book go?

 

When I first started selling my books at the age of 11, I sent the proceeds to an organization in Nepal that rescued children from human trafficking.  Now, I am 16 years old. I am now using the proceeds to sponsor a girl.

Her name is Eti, and she is 4 years old. She is from West Bengal, India and comes from poverty.
 

Being our Future: Why were you passionate about women's rights and child trafficking?

 

When I learnt about child trafficking, I was very young. I was only 11 years old. I went online and read a lot of horrifying things.

I learnt that in a lot of communities, girls were considered to be a burden to their parents. Parents would sell them to sex traffickers for as little as $100.

Some parents would marry their daughters off at a young age to “pass the burden” to the groom’s family.

These things came as a huge shock to me since I have always been very sheltered as a child. I felt very strongly about it, and I felt like I needed to do something to help these girls.

People living in these communities need to be educated about the importance of educating girls. They need to be taught that girls can achieve just as much, if not more than boys do. There are organizations such as Maiti Nepal working towards educating people in this communities. They raise awareness by giving speeches and telling these villagers why it is so important to educate girls.

 

Being our Future: What has been one of the most impactful moments since writing your book?

 

I think the best part is being able to reach many people and spread awareness about issues I am passionate about. I have always wanted to make a difference, and use my voice to talk about things that matter. I am so grateful to have an opportunity to do so.

 

Being our Future: What would be one piece of advice for any teens wanting to get involved and make a change?

 

You are never “too young” to talk about things that matter. Your voice matters. If you feel passionate about something, speak up. You don’t need a lot of money, or a platform to make a difference. You can make a difference right where you are now.

Being Our Future

Youth Engagement in Politics and Social Justice through education, empowerment, opportunities and inspiration.

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