Helping hands

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The Hand-In-Hand project aims at empowering disadvantaged youth of Goa and providing them with job opportunities

NT KURIOCITY

Goa-based non-profit organisation, the Peace n Bliss Association is on a mission to be the go-to social organisation acting as a bridge between two sets of people – ones that need help and the ones that can offer help. Through its initiative ‘Hand-In-Hand’, underprivileged youngsters are provided with employment to help them sustain themselves, become independent and pursue higher education.

“In Goa today, many youngsters aren’t able to pursue their further education due to lack of funds. Many of my students, too, have approached me telling me that they can’t pay their fees due to a variety of reasons. Something had to be done,” says head of the department of commerce and senior-most teacher of the higher secondary section at MES College of Arts and Commerce, Zuarinagar, Vishwanath Swar who conceptualised the idea of helping these youngsters on September 16 – a day that also happened to be his birthday. And so, under the Peace n Bliss Association, an organisation that he founded 20 years ago that offers yoga and meditation education, retreats and workshops free of cost to the public, Swar set up the ‘Hand-In-Hand’ project.

“The objective was to give disadvantaged students above 18 years of age a chance to manage their classes as well as earn an income,” he says. Swar, therefore, got in touch with friends, professionals and connections, and asked if they would be willing to create and offer part-time jobs in their establishments to help these youngsters.

“After passing class 12, many youngsters don’t have the finances to go further and are forced to drop out and stay idle or work as daily wage labour to fend for their families. These students have been trained in digital skills since class 8. Hence, jobs related to typing, data feeding, etc, that are integral in every sector are ideal for them,” says Swar, adding that pursuing higher education would open more doors and opportunities to them. The programme will also be an opportunity to assimilate youth into the competitive job market and help them acquire a better livelihood, and develop their social skills.

Through WhatsApp, social media and word of mouth, the initiative has garnered traction and an increasing amount of applications from youngsters looking for a job. As of today, eight youngsters have been successfully provided with jobs. “Through these jobs, they are given an opportunity to be financially independent, continue their education and invest in their future,” he adds.

However, Swar reveals that it hasn’t been all smooth sailing. The response from professionals has been poor, he says candidly. “Many of them don’t want to hire someone who can only work part-time. But it is difficult for these students to work full time as they have school/college commitments too,” he says.

The future of the underprivileged and disadvantaged youth of Goa compared to other states is currently very bleak, he emphasises. “In Goa, there are no proper vocational guidance centres which can guide students towards the route they must follow,” he says, adding that Goan youth should think beyond. “Youth should think beyond the standard front office jobs or clerical work. More youth should aim for top-level positions – and should be given the opportunities to do so,” he says.

“I will be very happy if more entrepreneurs, industrialists and stakeholders come forward and give a hand to this project because if they do the sky will be the limit for these youngsters,” he concludes.

(To be a part of the Hand-In-Hand project, one may contact Swar on Facebook or WhatsApp. Details: 9422442838)