He was a boy in his early teens. Just like millions of other boys like him in rural India, he had Zero education. He used to graze cattle in the vast Indian hinterland.
Fast forward 2 years. He now works in a BPO, speaks decent English, has self-respect and a dignified future which he can look forward to.
Does that sound out of a fictional novel or straight out of Bollywood? Then its time for you to watch this video
Stumped and pleasantly surprised beyond words, aren't you? So am I.
So, how did this happen? How did the quantam change come about? Enter: The "Rural Edge" project by SAMUHA and Foundation For Life.
SAMUHA is an NGO which has been working in the area of “Integrated Rural Development” for the past 22 years. Foundation For Life (FFL) has designed and developed a model for empowerment of the rural youth, for youth with any level of education to become employable in back-office processes in BPOs. An excerpt of its mission :
"Transforming the poverty of our villagers by providing opportunities of work, and enabling our fellow citizens – villagers of India - to thus live a life of dignity"
FFL has proved that this is not impossible.. on the contrary, far from it. FFL has already, as a proof of concept, trained one batch of villagers who are now employed in the BPO industry. Training for the next batch is round the corner.
I have now become a believer - in The Rural Edge, its vision and its mission.
How can you contribute?
The basic premise of FFL is to give basic education to the rural youth - and give them kind of a crash course in speaking English. What is needed for this is a set of very short, very simple stories in English; preferably with illustrations (a-la Tinkle). Stories which will keep the children amused for 5 minutes, and at the same time, teach them basics in English. Stories no more than 10 lines long to start off with.
If you are interested to help, please drop in a note to this email ID. I end this post with an appeal to spread the word about this initiative - one which is going to change the future of thousands of rural children forever. Blog about it, spread the word through email, by word of mouth, involve children if possible. This being the summer vacation for students, it is a good opportunity for them to get involved in something creative and at the same time of unfathomable value to the nation and its future.
Looking forward to an India full of educated, empowered and dignified youth! JAI BHARATH.