Well into our first week and we are all deeply immersed in the environment and our individual projects. Sandra and I are working on a livelihood program for slum youth for Vatsalya, a well established NGO in Jaipur. Vatsalya is an inspiring organisation that started with care for orphaned, destitute and abandoned children. It has since grown to cover additional areas including health programs and empowerment for women, and most recently the Upaarjan program providing entry level skills training to allow slum youth to gain employment. These programs are run directly in the areas where they are most needed with recruitment being done largely by word of mouth through individuals walking through the streets and talking one on one.
On our first day we visited three of these centres, basic but adequate for training in Tailoring, Customer Sales and Marketing, IT and Hospitality. As well as providing three months training in the chosen subject, they also provide personal skills development and assistance in placement in a job. With significant unemployment and poverty, this is a first step in providing entry level employment.
Yesterday we did visit Vatsalya’s pride and joy – their orphanage and school. Set some 50km outside of Jaipur it’s a great facility. Dormitories for the kids, school in the grounds where they learn Hindi, English, Maths, playgrounds, volley ball court and of course a cricket pitch ! (This is India after all). The kids were clearly happy greeting Sandra with Namaste Deedee (hello big sister) and behaving just like cheeky kids anywhere in the world.
Feeling a bit inspired by this – we are trying to organise the whole team to get out for a day to do some ‘graft’ – a bit of building painting, a bit of hoeing, as a change from the day to day work we are doing. Most people are shutting down at least for some time during the Diwali festival so a good opportunity to give something back in a different way.
Vatsalya headoffice and cafeteria