Sep 7: “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love…a gift to that person…a beautiful thing…” This adage by Mother Teresa doesn’t fail to light up the face with a smile. A smile is, indeed, a treasured gesture, and one of the companies that has gone a long way in helping maintain this gift is Colgate Palmolive (India) Limited, founded way back in 1937. It is as part of this commitment that Colgate has partnered with Social Empowerment & Economic Development Society (SEEDS), and its implementation partner, IL&FS Skills, to roll out Saksham across various locations in India. This initiative strives to encourage skilling among youth in order to promote financial independence and holistic development.
The trades offered, and curricula designed, are as per the guidelines of the National Skill Development Council. Under the Saksham programme, training for 45 days is imparted through effective and comprehensive multi-media content, besides important aspects pertaining to social skills and personality grooming. The youth enrolled in the program are from economically weaker families, both from urban slum locations, as well as from rural areas. The focus is on enrolling youth, who have the potential and the willingness to learn, but are devoid of financial resources, exposure or guidance to become gainfully employable.
Says Tammana Bharti, currently employed as a Retail Associate Trainee: “I always wanted to do something in my life, attain financial independence, and develop my personality, alongside. After convincing my father, I got myself enrolled in the certificate course at IL&FS Institute of Skills, Allahabad, under project Saksham. After the completion of the course, I was placed with a renowned company, at a monthly CTC of Rs. 10,800/-. This breakthrough changed my life. It is, indeed, an enabler for the underprivileged youth to pursue their ambitions and make the best of life’s opportunities.” Tammana goes on to explain how, instead of getting married at a really young age, she has now been able to stand on her own feet, and look forward to a better and brighter future.
For me, being independent always meant being able to support my
Diksha, another bright young girl, agrees with Tammana, as she reminisces about her journey: “For me, being independent means being able to support the family. My father, a farmer, earned Rs. 48,000 per annum by working on the fields, each day. When I heard about Saksham, I tried to convince my father, but he blatantly refused. After a lot of persuasion, he relented and I enrolled for the retail programme at IIS Moradabad. Post successful completion of the training, I got placed with Reliance Trends. My happiness knew no bounds, when I was offered an annual salary package of Rs. 1,26,000. Not only has this been a good self-esteem booster, but, most importantly, my father is proud of me today.”
Post the 60-day (earlier, 45 days) skill training, the change in the students is for everyone to see: from not being able to introduce themselves properly, to securing productive employment, is a huge spring for each one of these youngsters. In addition, the figures speak for themselves, as far as impact is concerned: 830 students have been enrolled till date, of which 63% are from rural and 37% from urban India. Post the initial success, ‘Saksham’ has expanded to more locations, further empowering more young people by enhancing their employability capabilities.
Says Manoj Pandey, Diksha Enterprises, Lucknow: “Not only have parents been thankful for the opportunity given to their children, but even we do so, as the initiative of helping these children establish themselves has a huge impact not only on them, but also on their families and communities.”