Shuba’s Smile

As we walked into our Kothanur Center, we met a girl dangling her keys, flashing a giant pearly white smile and disseminating sweets. “I started earning, so I bought a bike!” she exclaimed. Shuba had recently graduated from Reaching Hand’s Skills Training Program, Pratishtha, and started a job doing data entry at a large company. She’d brought sweets to pay her respects to the trainers who had helped her through a three-month journey learning life skills, work skills, English, customer interaction and typing.

However, the road to Shuba’s success has not always been smooth. Shuba’s father recently passed and her mother is a housewife leaving Shuba and her brother as the sole earners in the household. Previously, she was unable to use a computer but through the program she learned typing and computer skills. She had low self-esteem and was terrified of job interviews when she entered the course.

Shuba at Reaching Hand's Pratishtha Center in Kothanur
Shuba at Reaching Hand’s Pratishtha Center in Kothanur

Now, as a very bubbly and energetic 20 year old, it is hard to believe Shuba was once shy and apprehensive. Having perfected her typing skills, she is now teaching her brother typing in the evenings, in the hopes that he too can join an office job. Propelled by her newfound confidence, Shuba plans to work at her office for the next 5-6 years to save money before taking the required tests to accomplish her long-term dream of becoming a policewoman.

Pratistha, meaning Prestige, is one of the six programs at my placement, Reaching Hand and the main program I am working on. As there are over 20 million youth in India unemployed and not enrolled in school and only 10 percent of those employed receiving any skills training, there is a huge need for low cost training to increase skills and employment. Partnering with Quest Alliance and Accenture, Pratistha aims to bridge that gap by focusing on skill development and job placement in three low-income communities of Bangalore.

For Shuba, Prestige came in the form of confidence, and her newest prized possession: her motorcycle. For other students who have graduated from Pratistha, prestige comes in the form of economic independence, gender equality, and a feeling of accomplishment.

With Pratishtha Center trainers from Reaching Hand and other NGOs across South India at a Quest Alliance training
With Pratishtha Center trainers from Reaching Hand and other NGOs                             across South India at a Quest Alliance training

Abby is enthusiastic to explore southern India after previously living in Chandigarh and Delhi. Although she was raised in the uniquely homogenous Cajun culture of Louisiana, she has always enjoyed learning about diverse cultures- particularly working with refugees resettled in Baton Rouge. After working for the past year as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in an Indian government school, she is excited to collaborate with Sparsha in order to work at the intersection of public health, child rights, and education. She also hopes to utilize aspects of her child rights curriculum, which she developed over the past year in Delhi. Her past experiences in lobbying, fundraising, and working, for the U.S. Congress, have taught her the values of patience and collaboration in order to create positive change. While in India, she hopes to see lots of pongols during Durga Puja, find exceptional momos (steamed, not fried!), and run in road races throughout the south.

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