Sameer,the eldest son in a family of six, dropped out of school 4 years back due to food poisoning. Family savings were wiped off in his treatment, and since then his father's monthly wageof Rs. 3000 have been combating against Mumbai cost of living.
We met Sameer through a recent venture wherein, Airport Authorities of India (AAI) sponsored a youth employability center that offered NIIT Foundation (NF) courses behind Sameer's Bamanwada Basti.On his first visit, Sameerhad a clear agenda, a hard Mumbaiya accent and unkempt clothing. "English -Computer Seekhne ka hai, kuch kamaana chahta hoon”.(Want to learn Computer and English to start earning) Perhaps his bed-ridden mother's plight, or the family's financial struggle wasno longer discountable for Sameer, because he convinced us to enrol him regardless of the fact he could not read a word of English.
Ashutosh, N F Center Manager, knew the enormity of the task he had taken over, but something unexpected happened,“I took him on mobilisation, counselled him about every little thing, I did my hard work, but what amazes me, is how fast he responded to these feedbacks and suggestions”. Sameer’s accent vanished fast, one could not keep track of when his ‘APPUN’ had changed to ‘AAP’ and in a matter of 2 month he had already started coming in formal clothes.
However, Sameer knew that English would take longer to master. Taking proactive approach, he applied for a part time job at the NFas a mobiliserand took to helping new students with beginner’s level English after work while simultaneously learning with them. Sameer has now cleared his 10th and is awaiting 12th class results. When asked why he is so dedicated, he replies “Normal institute sikhate nahi hain, sirf bataate hain. Yahaan sahi kaam kyun karna hai yeh sikhate hain.”(Generallyinstitutes do not teach, they tell. Here (at NF-AAI) they teach why one should do the right thing). His peers and teachers put his progress in a nutshell,“Sameer doesn’t look a part of Basti anymore. Everything has changed about him”
Though Sameer is still fine tuning his English, he is already a responsible young man. Refusingto treat his friends from his first salary, Sameer gave the money to hismother.WithAAI’s tool-kit, NF is shaping the Sameers of Mumbaito be stronger than odds facing them, especially by teaching them why to do the right thing.