SPRING: A TIME OF INSPIRATION & CHANGE FOR A POSITIVE FUTURE
During the Spring of each year, TMA’s partners in India, Shree Nityananda Education Trust and Parivartan Mahila Sanstha, begin their yearly campaign to inspire young people to dream a new dream: a dream of better health, better education, and better work opportunities.
Career Guidance & Encouragement for Rural Youth:
Yearly Career and Vocation Day
In May, TMA’s partners jointly hold a Career Day in Ganeshpuri, India, to help acquaint the local youth (of nearby impoverished tribal areas) with the exceptional vocational training at Rama Krishna Mission in Sakwar. They can learn any of the following trades in 10 months essentially free: Carpentry, Welding, House Wiring, Car Mechanics, Driving, Tailoring, and Community Health Worker. Last year, our team of social workers and teachers motivated and encouraged 12 young people to expand their horizons and take one of these courses: 7 men and 5 women. They will graduate in May of this year. The RKM program still is under-utilized and can accommodate many more young people. So, this year, we plan to expand our outreach and introduce more teenagers and their parents than we did last year.
The Career Day of May 25th, 2014 will host the following motivational speakers: Swami Avadhootananda who is the director of Rama Krishna Mission, a vocational guidance counselor, social workers, educators, and various business people from the community.
2013 Career Day at TMA’s partner Shree Nityananda Education Trust’s dome. Swami Avadhootananda of Rama Krishna Mission was guest speaker to give information about their vocational program.
Visit Rama Krishna Mission Vocational Program
After the Career Day, TMA’S partners rent several vans and take the young people to visit the Rama Krishna Mission campus and see the various labs, such as the auto mechanic, tailoring or carpentry labs. The class rooms for the Community Health Worker are used twice a week for a functioning health clinic, so the young ladies who take the class actually get hands-on experience. When the students finish the ten month course, many are offered jobs in the nearby cities of Mumbai, Vasai or Virar. Every student receives training in computers and conversational English as well.
The youth exam the RKM Auto Mechanic workshop sponsored by Tata Motors.
Applications and Interviews at RKM
In June, for those who wish to apply and interview with the RKM staff, we provide vans to take the applicants and one of their parents to the school. Our team of social workers attend and and help to fill out the forms and make the process go smoothly. The village youth are very shy about leaving the village, and we find that having interested and inspired adults along make the experience very positive for the applicants.
SNET’S staff Rural Development Manager, Subhash Patil helps two youth fill out their application form and encourage them to go beyond their fears.
On-going Support for Fees and Bus Fare Needed
Once the young people decide to attend the RKM program, the boys need to buy uniforms (1200 rps or $ 20 US) and pay an application fee (500 rps or $9 US). The boys must live at the school where they are fed four times a day and receive daily milk products from the dairy they help run. Our partners pays for half of the boys’ application fee and their family pays half.
The Rama Krishna Mission’s class rooms and dormitory are housed in this modern building.
The girls do not have available housing, so they are required to go back and forth from their homes daily, which can be a three or four hour trip. But we have found that the young women are motivated enough to bear this hardship. Their monthly bus fare is usually 1500 rps of which our partners promises to pay 1/3 shared with RKM and the girl’s family. The girls are also required to pay the 500 rupee application fee of which TMA’s partners pays half.
Two young women from Ganeshpuri area came to the interview with their mothers in May 2013, and now are graduating in tailoring this June 2014.
Girls Scholarships for Higher Education Needed
Education gives a woman a step up the ladder of gender equality and opens the way for greater opportunities of self-expression. In the outback of rural India, as in Ganeshpuri area, the women are greatly neglected by Indian society. The women in the villages walk to the well five to eight times a day to get water. There is no infrastructure for water delivered to their homes. And the water is not clean but usually contaminated with pathogens and chemicals.
Collecting water at the local well is a daily chore for most village women repeated 4-8 times.
In 2001, the literacy rate for India was 52.2%, but for Adivasi tribal women, the rate was a stunningly low 18.2%. There are so very few opportunities for bright village girls to access higher education in their nearby villages. Some parents refuse to let their girl children take the local buses to the schools in the cities. And those parents who wish to see their girl children go for advance degrees and education are limited to due to lack of funds. The women in rural India lack the same opportunities to which the young men have access. We are committed to closing his gender gap in education of the young women of this area.
In July, we start a new cycle of helping young women to attend advanced schooling in engineering, medical college, nursing, teacher college, agriculture specialty, hotel management and tourism, computer technology, and social work. Their applications have now started. We have helped about 15 young ladies with higher degrees in the past two years. We would like to do it again. We are now interviewing girls and their families, checking their records, their family financial status, and their references. We had one girl falsify her records in these past few months, so we have had to deny her help, as well as be on more guard for any kind of deception. Gita Lotankar, a teacher and supervisor at the Divine Grace School in Vajreshwari is our Scholarship Manager and is overseeing the application process. She offers counseling and guidance as well as verifies the schools and fees that our ladies are presenting. We will probably need about $ 5000 if we are to help all the girls who apply with their requests for higher education.
The village female youth have many odds against their dream of higher education: poverty, cultural restrictions, absent parents, family fears, neighborhood rejection, and lack of career guidance.
Providing Jobs for Graduates of 2014 Class of Rama Krishna Mission:
Five young ladies from our nearby villages will be graduating in June. We hope to have funds to hire them for our two projects:
- The Health Education project where our six educators (all graduates of the Rama Krishna Mission’s program “Community Health Worker class of 2013) conduct home visits and village meetings for the tribal women teaching the following topics: health, hygiene, water purification, yoga and exercise, good nutrition and cooking classes. The women we are targeting are those who live far from the infrastructure of modern India, are illiterate and had little education as youth.The six graduates of Rama Krishna Mission’s Community Health Worker program were hired by SNET to provide water hygiene education to the villages. The program is so successful the staff have expanded their program to include good nutrition, yoga and meditation, personal hygiene, cooking lessons, and the psychology of health.
- The Women’s Art Workshop is where a group of women create handmade patchwork quilts and work with visiting designers. These women have very few opportunities to earn money out of the home. Most are unable to communicate with the modern world of commerce and live very sheltered lives. So our partners are giving these women opportunities to improve their life and that of their families’.
These three ladies are about to graduate from RKM’s tailoring class. They will be offered employment to the women’s quilt making workshop.