ETASHA in “The Sip of Life” -1

An Asha (Hope) Called ETASHA

The Sip of Life brings to you a two-part inspiring series on an NGO which has been able to make a mark by helping out the disadvantaged youth and an interview with a girl who has found a place for herself with her own efforts and assistance from this NGO. The Sip of Life Good News and Inspiration columns this week talk about these stories of courage, bringing about a change in many lives.

We today profile ETASHA (Enabling and Training Adolescents for Successful and Healthy Adulthood) that provides market-oriented employability and vocational skills to disadvantaged Indian youth (aged 15-30 years) and has filled asha (hope) in lives of many. Starting in 2006 with just one part time paid faculty member and three volunteers, today ETASHA operates with a team of thirty which includes thirteen full time and four part time faculty, four Community Mobilisation staff, three administrative support staff and six regular, committed volunteers.

ETASHA was formed in 2006 by Dr Meenakshi Nayar, a IIM alumna and HR professional with over 25 years industry experience. Meenakshi had left her last role as Executive VP HR for a large corporate house to form Eduserve Consultants, which provides career guidance, sex education and advice on growing up to adolescents. During the course of running Eduserve, Meenakshi realised that young people from under-served communities needed specific tailored career advice, and more importantly information on and access to employability skills and vocational training; thus ETASHA was born, which now partners with organisations in Delhi and across India.

In our first two-part series we take case studies of three girls whom ETASHA has helped to stand on their own and make a difference in their lives.

Sapna has two younger siblings and lives with them and their mother, who works as a domestic servant, earning Rs 2,500 per month in Azad Pur. As a child Sapna contracted polio which affected both her legs, and which diminished her chances of securing a job. In the summer of 2010 ETASHA ran a Customer Service and Work Culture (CSWC) program at Amar Jyoti, an NGO working with the physically challenged. Every day, for 6 days every week for 13 weeks Sapna (in summer!) Sapna spent two hours each way on two buses, travelling from her home in Azad Pur to Karkadooma, Esst Delhi to attend the CSWC program, so determined was she to learn the skills that would enable to her to get the dream job she wanted to contribute to the family income.

Immediately concluding the CSWC program ETASHA arranged an interview – Sapna’s first real interview with CSR partner NetAmbit in Noida. Sapna passed and is now working as an Insurance Sales Executive earning over Rs.7000 per month. The company also provides a pick up and drop off facility which is a huge bonus for her. She recently took some time off to marry but returned to work on 26 May. She is still the main breadwinner for the family, as her younger brother and sister are still in school.

Bhagwati lives with her mother, a heart patient, her elder brother, his wife and their two children in a dilapidated room in Karkadooma, East Delhi. Her other two brothers are married and living apart from Bhagwati and her brother. The brother with whom she lives has a neurological condition which induces seizures every few days, meaning he is often unable to drive the family bullock cart, which, until Bhagwati got her first job, was the family’s only source of income, being used for local deliveries and removals. Initially her family was against her working, worried that her reputation would suffer, and that members of the extended family would cause trouble. Bhagwati’s salary of over Rs.7000 after being placed there by ETASHA, goes a long way to alleviate their concerns.

Kiran is a smart 22 year old who completed her XII pass education from a government school in 2006. The daughter of a former vegetable vendor now working away from home as a labourer in Himachal Pradesh, Kiran is the eldest of four siblings, one of whom suffers from epilepsy. She is pursuing a degree course through correspondence but was also keen to work to supplement the family income. A childhood accident untreated had left one leg shorter than the other; her aunt had dropped her as a baby and covered up the accident, scared of getting into trouble. Kiran, though bright and positive in outlook felt that employers would not hire someone with such an obvious disability. Kiran and her mother had worked at night eking out a meagre living embroidering clothes at home, a cramped single room shared by Kiran’s mother and all four children.

Kiran joined ETASHA’s CSWC program in June 2010 to help her work towards a career in the service sector, after hearing that call centres were encouraging physically challenged applicants. She had not considered hospitality until one of ETASHA’s Social Confidence visit brought her to a Café Coffee Day outlet in Mayur Vihar, Delhi. Kiran, naturally sociable, loved the environment, and felt that this was the kind of place she wanted to work. She was amazed to discover that under Café Coffee Day’s CSR work with ETASHA there may be a chance to join. After completing the program ETASHA arranged interviews for Kiran with both Nirula’s and Café Coffee Day and after being offered positions with both she joined the latter in September 2010. Now the chief breadwinner, she is effectively the ‘man’ of the family in her father’s absence. She still however hands over her entire salary to her mother but this has given her a greater say in the decision making process of the family.

3 thoughts on “ETASHA in “The Sip of Life” -1”

  1. Raakesh agarvwal


    am over whelmed after reading the real stories of these girls… am a reasonably well known designer…. if you come accross any girl, who has some interest in embroideries, stitching or anything thats related to garments, pl do let us know…. we would love to extend any help,that we can, to your organization.




  2. Rakesh,
    Thank You for such a beautiful response. We also have trainees interested in administration jobs and accounts. Do keep in touch with ETASHA if you need any staff, so we may be able to re direct you
    ETASHA Team

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