“Today, I am earning and helping my family financially. It has helped me become more confident, plan my life better and discover my passion for healthcare.”

Zahid Abbas is a Geriatric Care Aide with a hospital in Noida, caring for patients who were stranded with no care during the virulent pandemic. He got a new lease of life after joining AIF’s Market Aligned Skills Training’s (MAST) Geriatric Care program. Zahid, like millions of youths from small rural and peri-urban towns barely managed to complete his secondary education with no steer of what the future held for him.

Hailing from a small town in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, his father worked as a typist in a company and was the sole earning member of a family of seven. His meager earnings barely sufficed for the family. With not enough money to pursue higher education and barely any skills, Zahid moved to Delhi in the hope of a better livelihood. The needs of the family were steadily increasing and learning from his father, Zahid started working as a typist in a computer shop in the city. He soon grew unhappy with the little earnings and was disillusioned with his work.

One day, he got a pamphlet about the Geriatric Care Aide course from a GCA mobilizer. Impressed by the briefing on the course, he felt hopeful and excited for the first time. His interest in the healthcare industry increased and he decided to pursue the Geriatric Care Aide course.

“I used to attend all classes at the centre with dedication but soon a lockdown occurred and all our classes were shifted to online mode. Without losing any impact when shifting to the online model, I successfully completed the three-month course, with a one-month internship in a hospital which helped me apply my technical skills in a real field setting. As soon as I completed this course, I was provided with a job at Manas Hospital, Noida, where I worked as a frontline CIVID healthcare provider.” Said Zahid.

The MAST program works across the country to provide individuals with employability skills needed to address India’s growing need for skilled manpower. Besides helping young people from economically backward communities to access jobs and livelihoods opportunities, it also spreads awareness about vocational training and skilling, offers entrepreneurship opportunities, empowers thousands of young people with hands-on skills, and places them in jobs.


The MAST program begins with a labor market scan in each region, working closely with employers to develop the market-aligned training curricullum that forms the heart of the program’s skills training. The skilling course combines foundational, workforce readiness skills with industry-specific skills, ranging from retail, basic IT, healthcare to hospitality, creating multi-sector job opportunities for marginalized young people. Upon completion of the training, qualified candidates are placed into entry-level jobs, thus creating a path to financial independence.


With employment severely impacted by COVID-19, the GCA course came at a time when Zahid could continue to work, provide for his family and indulge his newly found passion for health care. As COVID-19 adversely impacted livelihoods in every sector; AIF designed a high impact project for one of the worst affected vulnerable community- street vendors. Through Project Entre-Prerana, AIF is creating sustainable livelihoods for street vendors by providing them access to new sources of income, low cost working capital, and mainstreaming their business through formal registration. It also establishes linkages for street vendors with the government schemes such as PM SVANidhi loans that provide access to a working capital loan of Rs. 10,000 under the schemes, at subsidized rate of interest for street vendors to resume their livelihoods adversely affected by the pandemic.


Shreya comes with thirteen years of experience in the field of communication, management, business development, marketing and advocacy, across development and private sectors. As a Board Member looking after Communication and Strategy for “Reach Out & Pass It On Foundation”, she has been a proponent of improved access to opportunities in the field of education and livelihood to the under-served communities over the last decade. She has her Masters in English Literature as well as Entrepreneurship Management and has represented her organization among cohorts of Policy and Communications leaders from across the world.

As a Dot Connector, her work experience as a communications and advocacy lead has led her to gainfully collaborate with government bodies and international organizations/entities like USAID, Houses of Parliament of the United Kingdom, Atlas Network and WWF, employing a compelling mix of theoretical insights and analytical tools, poised to deliver critical application of communication mediation in the new media ecology.

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