Monday, January 18, 2010

Nothing is impossible

There are times when teachers learn from the student as much as the student learns from teachers. This was what the iLead team at Bhopal experienced when Vandana Bhargurya enrolled herself for the CRR course at the centre and went on to storm the male-dominated area of welding.

Hailing from an impoverished Scheduled Caste family of five in Eatkhedi village in Madhya Pradesh, Vandana could not afford the luxury of education since she felt the need to contribute to the family income which was a meager Rs 2900 per month earned by her daily wage earning father. It often pained her to see the family go without the daily bread, but she was helpless without any qualification for a job.

Even as she was going through this phase of despair, she came to know of iLead and the opportunities it held for her. Determined to overcome all odds, Vandana after undergoing training at iLEAD, was selected in March 2008 by Bend Joints Pvt Ltd an ISO 9001 2000 certified company at Govind pura Industrial area at Bhopal. She underwent in-house training and subsequently joined as welder with an initial salary of Rs 2700. The management took note of her performance and the salary was to raised Rs 5500 with other social security benefits. Unmindful of the fact that the work exposed her to great risks, Vandana took it up head on and proved a point that given grit and determination, and with a little help from organizations like iLead, women too can take up any kind of work. She not only set an example for fellow students at iLead but also her community by earning the respect of her employers and co-workers with her efficiency and determination to succeed at work. She also made it a point to take her family members and neighbours to her workplace to give them a taste of the work culture and environment.

Vandana’s level of confidence was quite visible when she had the opportunity to share the iLead experience that during a presentation & interaction meeting orgnised by CII on Affirmative Action Initiative on 25th July 2008 at Indore. She spoke eloquently on behalf of fellow students during an interaction with Dr J J Irani, Chairman, CII Apex Council on Affirmative Action & Director Tata Sons Ltd after the presentation.Her presentation on how iLead had changed the course of her life was heard by the audience with rapt attention. Her assertion that being a woman was not a handicap and given a little encouragement and motivation, could achieve anything was received well.

Encouraged by Vandana’s success, three other girls from her community took up the course and have also found employment in Bend and Joints, and many more have shown eagerness to follow suit. As for Vandana herself, she plans to stick to the organization she works for as the management has been very helpful and encouraging.

The iLead team in Bhopal has this to say about Vandana: “She set an example for us too by taking up a career in a male-dominated field and proving that with grit and determination, women too can match men in any field.”

Mr. Narendra Singh, Incharge workshop, Bend & Joints Pvt. Ltd, who played a critical role in mentoring Vandana has shared in his views- in the initial stage of training vandana was very scared and shy of the kind of job she has to do but with strong determination and commitment she has picked up the skills and now she is at par with any experienced person at the unit. Her confidenc now is really amazing”

Vandana had also shared that when she joined iLEAD she only thought of learning few skills but she never thought that by virtue of this one day she would be able to support her family.

I do acknowledge the inputs / story from Aide et Action team Chennai and Bhopal for their inputs. this is jsut for wide circulation.