Most of us have college degrees and postgraduate degrees. Some of us go to air-conditioned offices which have a continuous supply of free coffee and snacks. What about those who fall between the cracks? How does society help those who drop out, the ones who are unable to cope with the rigorous system?
Mukti Foundation, an NGO is paving the way, by providing crucial vocational training to deserving people.
The NGO has made it their responsibility, to open the doors of opportunity for those who need it. Partnering with Equitas, a small finance bank headquartered in Chennai, they have started a skill development program, to provide vital vocational training to youths who have not completed their education or have no other options.
Meena Dadha is the brains behind this unique initiative. Her logic is simple. Many youth do not complete their education due to various reasons—financial issues, unstable backgrounds, mental health issues, etc. Unable to get qualified, they become unemployed, and join the section of population that falls prey to vices, and bad habits, in the absence of gainful employment.
Meena aims to get these youth equipped with necessary skills for employment. Her strong belief in bettering the economic and social status of these youth led her to start the program.
The Mukti Foundation was founded three decades ago, to provide free prosthetic limbs and callipers to amputees, and polio patients, and has conducted scores of camps, awareness programmes, and seminars, in different parts of the globe. This vocational training project is the foundation’s latest venture.
At the moment, the course provides two courses—one for plumbing, and one for electrical work. Meena says that this is just to begin the proceedings and additional relevant courses will be added over time. She stresses that since most youth are from financially backward sections, it is imperative to get them on their feet, make them independent, and get them off the streets. Meena mentions that the only thing that is needed, on their part, is the drive to learn.
The classes are three-hour long, and the emphasis is on slow but thorough progress. For example, after a week of basic training, the students are allowed to handle wires and are then encouraged to explore further.
The Deputy General Manager of Equitas Development Initiative Trust, Sathyanarayanan D has been aiding the NGO in finding these students, and get them to attend classes. According to him, the relocated and rehabilitated pavement dwellers have been moved into houses, with the initial 6 months of rent paid, and supplies stocked.
At Mukti’s latest vocational training programme, the youngest student is all of 14 years old. Meena says there is no age-bar, and that anyone with an interest to learn and earn, is welcome.
The vocational training initiative by Mukti is a welcome scheme, in a country where over 30% of the youth, are not studying, working, or, engaged in some sort of professional training. Vocational training empowers these young minds with vital skills, one with which they can earn their bread, in their home state or anywhere else.
Meena says everyone needs to earn their own money and be happy in their individual lives. That is when they will collectively value our culture, country and people. It cannot happen if the youth are hungry and unemployed. She also emphasises that the conditioning needs to start from childhood. Parents and teachers need to play an active role in the lives of the young, teaching and mentoring them, equipping them with necessary skills to tackle life problems later on.
When asked about her future plans, she says that the training program has just begun. She is happy to help the youth in any capacity she can. The rest, she will leave to chance.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)