ETASHA as an organization is all about giving back to the community and assisting the less fortunate, and perhaps no current team member better epitomizes this motto than 24-year-old Mukesh Agarwal. On the surface, he seems to be like many other Indians of his age: he enjoys playing cricket, watching cricket matches, and films such as 3 Idiots. His family of six lives in Madanpur Khadar, near an ETASHA learning center. However, Mukesh is unique in that he has come full circle in ETASHA: in the last three years, he has gone from trainee to team member, a living embodiment of ETASHA’s ability to help disadvantaged youth find employment. I recently had the opportunity to interview him, and gained a better perspective regarding both his life and the benefits ETASHA had provided him with.
Not including himself, Mukesh explained that only two of his family members are currently employed. His eldest brother works as a refrigerator repair mechanic, while another sibling works as a Field Executive for a service provider of City Bank. From an early age, Mukesh had realized the importance of understanding and being able to speak English, but had never had access to an opportunity to learn English. This changed when he heard about ETASHA from one of his neighbors; he enrolled immediately in CODE (Computer Operator and Data Entry). He recalls with a smile, “I loved the Internet class. The first time I saw the Internet I thought ‘wow!’ because it was so big.” Mukesh also explains that the teachers are also an integral part of what makes ETASHA so special, saying, “The teachers were very kind and always willing to help.” Indeed, I (and anyone else that has seen an ETASHA-taught class) can attest to the patience and kindness that instructors use when dealing with youth.
Even now that he is on the other side as a member of the team, Mukesh still feels that ETASHA is continuing to help him in many ways, both tangible and intangible. “My English speaking has improved a lot,” he noted. In fact, while I asked him questions in a mix of Hindi and English, he responded in fluent English every time! He believes that ETASHA has prepared him for employment and given him the social skills he needs to succeed, and recommends it to any and all underprivileged children that find themselves in a similar situation to what he was once in. The people that comprise the organization greatly enhance its effectiveness as well: Mukesh says his colleagues are very easy to work with and every bit as patient as they were when they were his teachers. “I like my job,” he says simply. Stay tuned to hear about how ETASHA is giving people just like Mukesh the tools to succeed in the future!
–By Abhishek Bhargava