From Farm to Fast Food
After graduating from college, I wanted to work and support my parents who had minimal income as daily-wage agricultural workers. The only opportunity for employment in my village of Kembal in Karnataka’s Mysore district was to work as a farm hand.
This was, however, seasonal work and paid very little. While I had a college education, it seemed of little use given I was staring at working on a farm. With no job prospects and income, I became depressed and saw myself as a financial burden on the family.
At a Village Development Committee meeting, I approached the SST team to help find a job suited to my qualifications. They told me about various career options and asked me to enrol in a youth development program to get training in soft skills.
I was unsure what skills I could pick up. However, at the training centre I was taught social skills and life skills. I learnt to interact with members outside my community, to work as a team and do tasks in a co-ordinated way.
I learnt the importance of punctuality, being task-oriented, being courteous and taking ownership for one’s work.
What became clear to me was that there was life beyond the village. It dawned on me that with an attitude to learn and take on new skills, my life too could change.
The new outlook made a big difference. Soon, after completing the 10-day training programme, I got a job at a KFC outlet in Mysore.
I have a regular income of Rs. 7,000 per month. The money takes care of my needs and also helps me contribute to the family income.
Working with SST has changed my life and destiny. I feel blessed.
The SST Way
SST social worker Satheesa who mentored Nayaka
I visited Kembal village with the Village Development Committee and saw Nayaka who also attended meetings in the village. He seemed lost and felt it was his destiny to remain marginalised. We motivated him and arranged for him to attend a training program conducted by The Reddy Foundation.
At first, he didn’t agree to our suggestion. He argued that it was futile, as job prospects were poor.
To encourage him, we gave a sum of Rs. 500 as travel expenses for him to go from his village to Mysore where the 45-day program was being conducted. The fee for the training course was Rs. 1,200 and Nayaka borrowed this amount from his family.
SST, through The Reddy Foundation, promised him that he would get a job after completing the course. That convinced Nayaka. As coordinators, we had to ensure that he was fit for employment, so we insisted that he should make the most of his training, which was an opportunity for him to change his life. He has now been working with KFC for three years.
Inspired by Nayaka, other unemployed youngsters are looking for jobs such as drivers, bakers and as factory workers. Some want to be self-employed. At SST, as a team, problems are discussed threadbare with the hope of coming up with solutions that will work for the local population. We look at government schemes and try to bring them to the attention of unemployed youth and other disadvantaged sections.
Nayaka, who first came to us as a participant for a cleaning and hygiene program in the village, is now involved in some of SST’s programs.
His participation means that others see him as an example and are willing to take a chance.
We enrol people in self-help groups and help arrange bank loans so they can access income-generation programs.
We identify government schemes and subsidies available at the village level. We enlist the support of elders and women in Village Development Committee meetings.
The aim is to secure support for the plans we draw up. With this approach, people often offer suggestions and solutions to problems, and a lot of answers emerge from Village Development Committees.