Today we had a delightful meeting with a charming retired gentleman called Mr. Sharma and a small group of young people from Bharat Mata Kusht Ashram (BMKA), a leprosy colony in Faridabad. Newly retired after a long career in HR and CSR for a major company, Mr. Sharma was looking for some voluntary work. Ben Gomes, (through Ten Thousand Villages, U.S.A.) recently made a grant to MESH for training of young people from this leprosy community. The aim is to provide a revolving loan fund that young people can tap into for trainings that will lead to employment. As they repay with a small interest the money will be revolved to help more children. In BMKA there is a fairly high drop-out rate of boys after eighth standard and we are aware that there are no role models and for most young people no one to ask for careers advice or to mentor them when they are tempted to drop out.
At the meeting there were a couple of boys who have finished school and are at college, one studying commerce with a view to chartered accountancy later, another young fellow with a Justin Beiber hair style (ah the power of the international media!) is doing a Batchelor of Arts degree with a view to dipping into law at a later date. They may need guidance along the way but not much now.
There were a couple of others at school and getting on with it and then three or four who have dropped out and judging by their discomfort they are not very popular with their parents. Having not got much beyond eighth standard they will have trouble finding places in formal technical course but hopefully there are opportunities for them to get some technical skills and they can be encouraged to go to open school for formal qualifications once they have entered the work force and can see the value of a few more qualifications.
There were no girls there today although we did not find out why; I have a theory that they were all at school or college where they should have been.
Mr. Sharma lives quite close and is keen to find options for the drop outs and seemed willing to mentor and guide them. He seems worth his weight in gold to us who have been struggling to know how best to help the young people when we are already seriously tied up with the trading side of our work.
I hope to be sharing good news about these young people in the coming months.