Friday, October 12

In pursuit of work: Vikas’s story

"I never imagined any company would hire me," says 22-year-old Vikas from Chamle village of Bhiwandi, a town located almost 36km away from the city of Mumbai. Vikas’s parents are farmers with an income of Rs. 5,000 a month. Their family of five was surviving on this. Vikas didn’t have the means to opt for college. "I had to look out for work instead. But with just a higher secondary degree there were no jobs available for me." He enrolled for a diesel mechanics course with the hope to find a job, but in vain.

Convinced that all doors to employment are permanently closed, Vikas fell in the company of young people who whiled away time playing cards. That is when his uncle spoke to him and informed him about the Magic Bus Livelihoods Centre at Ambadi, just 8km away from his home.

Thus began Vikas’s journey as a part of the second batch of young persons who underwent livelihoods training at the Macquarie-supported Magic Bus Livelihood Centre in Ambadi, a village located at Bhiwandi tehsil of Thane district in Maharashtra.

Vikas is among the 10,000 young people who attend Magic Bus’ Livelihood programme across India. The programme that began in 2015 connects the aspirations and potential of young people to available market opportunities. In doing so, the organisation focuses on building their employability skills and maps job potential based on individual strengths and mobility.

At the Livelihood Centre, Vikas got an opportunity to plan his career. He went for counseling sessions where he spoke about his strengths and came to terms with his limitations. He took keen interest in learning to speak in English, and in the digital and financial literacy classes. At the end of the two-month long course, he sat for job interviews lined up by the Centre. He joined as an RO technician at a leading water treatment plant with a starting salary of Rs. 9,000 per month.

"I could sense a beginning at a point of my life when I had completely given up hope," he says.


Within six months of his joining, Vikas got promoted as a team leader with four employees reporting into him. His performance earned him a place in the sales team of their water purifying products. Within a span of just four months, he sold more than 50 units of water purifiers, earning business worth four lakh rupees. It was around this time that he also received an offer to intern with Coca Cola. It was a paid internship of Rs. 7,000 per month.

At present, Vikas works two jobs. He earns Rs. 17,000 per month. "Our conditions have improved. We don't need to worry about two square meals a day. I still see this as a beginning. I want to work more, see more of the world and do better with each job," he signs off.

Vikas at his place of work

Vikas is a story of hope, a face of India’s future that is largely young. In the next few years, India’s future will be written by ambitious and enterprising young persons like Vikas. And this is where the need emerges to make a young population – so large in number – ready to dream and work. In making this a reality, non-profits like Magic Bus works with various stakeholders – corporates, government entities, and the community to ensure every young person has the opportunity to work, earn, and move out of poverty.

To ensure we reach out to more such young people with right opportunities, donate to us here.

Monday, January 22

Learning to Learn: How the DISHA programme helped Jagu return to school

Image used for representative purpose only

Jagu Rathore is 16 years old and lives in Lakhanpura village in Khargone district of Madhya Pradesh. Khargone is located 74 km from Indore, the largest city of Madhya Pradesh.

They are a family of five. With his elder sister’s marriage, Jagu, his parents and elder brother live in a wooden hut that Jagu calls ‘home’. Jagu’s parents are farmers. “Banjaras, Gujjars, and Thakurs are three caste groups that live in Lakhanpura. Almost all of them are dependent on agriculture. Those who own vast acres of land are the richest. Even in a small village like ours, the division between the rich and poor is visible,” Jagu explains.

Jagu’s parents never went to school. His elder brother studied till the 10th standard and his sister till the 5th standard. “My parents always wanted me to study further. They struggled to make ends meet and would spend more time in the fields than with us. But that is the story of every poor household in Lakhanpura,” he says.

Jagu went to a school in his neighbourhood. “I had absolutely no interest in studying. Like my friends, I wanted to make quick money by working odd jobs. I did not listen to my parents’ advice,” he admits.

One day he stopped going to school and started working at a garage earning Rs. 1000 a month.

He was unaware of changes taking place in his school.

HDFC’s DISHA programme began in Jaggu’s school around the time he had dropped out and had no intention to return. Ritesh, Magic Bus staff who manages the DISHA programme in Madhya Pradesh, says, “We were initially not welcomed by school authorities. But we spent the initial months winning their support. We listened to their problems and wherever possible, offered to work with them on these. The teachers shared that children in the schools are irregular and they have no interest in lessons. That became one of our early goals to achieve – getting them back to schools and interested in being there,” he says.

With its activity-based curriculum, that promised fun and learning at the same time, Ritesh’s team soon managed to capture the imagination of the children. In fact, news about the sessions reached the elders at Lakhanpura, who had already started participating in some of the Community Connect initiatives of the programme.

It was Vishal who brought the news of an “interesting hour-long activity session in school” to Jagu. “I already felt weary of the work and longed to go back to school. After learning from Vishal about this new development, I was keen on finding out more about it.”

By then, Nirbhay Singh Gurjar, who was in charge of the activity-based sessions in school, had heard about Jagu and visited his parents to find out more about the boy and his circumstances.

When Jagu finally reached school he was surprised to find a circle of his classmates, holding hands, buzzing with excitement. Without saying a word, he joined them. At the end of the session, he was keen for more information. No one had spoken to him about the importance of education in such an engaging manner.

Image used for representative purpose only

“I came back every day with the hope that I would learn something new. Each session would be different from the last. I had finally become curious. I started paying the same amount of attention in class and was surprised how interesting my lessons could be,” he says, his voice brimming with enthusiasm.
“I was made the class monitor because I am responsible,” he adds in a small voice, trying to suppress a smile.

The DISHA programme is aimed at building life skills of adolescents, improve their learning in numeracy, reading, and science and ensure they are job ready.

The programme is funded by HDFC Bank and implemented by Magic Bus, Life Labs, and Learning Links Foundation, in partnership with the State governments of Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra. It works in 172 schools across four States impacting the lives of 17,500 adolescents.

Photographs used in this story are for representation only.