The morning of 25th March 2020 was one of the strangest ones in the memory of 21st-century India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the eve of 24th March 2020 announced a nationwide lockdown for 21 days in India in an attempt to control the surging spread of Covid-19.
The world on our side woke up to empty streets, home doors tightly shut, and only essential shops with open shutters at fixed timings. Of all the defining moments and inventions of the century, right from the spirit-shattering 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers, to the launch of Facebook by Mark Zuckerberg, and the great recession, nothing made the world look so hopeless.
Covid-19 turned all of our lives upside down.
Let’s meet Mamata!
Mamata Jati (31) of Kolkata, West Bengal feared the worst when the lockdown was announced. Her son, Soumyadeep, then around 8 years old, asked her questions in his childlike curiosity.
“When will I go back to school?”, “When will I play with my friends?”, “Why is there no one on the streets?”, and more. Mamata hadn’t lived through a pandemic or anything like this before. She did not have any answers to her son’s innocuous questions.
Her husband, Somnath’s iron products repair shop wasn’t an essential one, so it stopped doing any business during the lockdown. The family was struggling, struggling hard, even for the basics. Mamata was in a bad mental space. She had seen poverty before but this felt different. Nobody knew when would the world go back to normal. This scared Mamata and her family.
The Aftereffects of Covid-19 on Mamata and Her Family
Mamata was married off at the young age of 19. Her father is a vegetable seller, and her mother is a homemaker. Anything beyond studying class 10 was out of the question for her. Studying higher education was a dream that she could not make true.
Her father’s earnings barely covered the basic living costs of the family. Education for his daughter was a luxury he simply couldn’t afford. But this time, when the tragedy of the pandemic befell Mamata and her family, she decided to change the situation and get employed.
What did Mamata Do Differently?
This is when Smile Foundation’s STeP programme presented her with the opportunity of getting trained in the General Duty Assistant (GDA) training module for 3 months. Her family, especially her husband, Somnath, encouraged her to join the GDA course and so, she did.
Being out of the learning system for a long time, Mamata faced difficulties in the beginning to understand the training module. However, her unbelievable willpower did her good. Every Saturday, she attended the “doubt-clearing session” to fully understand all the content covered in her training module.
Hope has the tendency of holding the hands of those who try hard enough, and Mamata was a sincere and hardworking person. Soon, she learned everything there was to learn in the GDA training module.
But Mamata soon realised that good knowledge of her job area was not enough. There were many other factors needed for her to secure a livelihood. After failing a few interviews, she felt disheartened. This is when the career counselors of her STeP centre stepped in and provided her with the necessary training in soft skills.
Something ignited in Mamata after the counseling sessions, she was prepared for her next interview. She was fully prepared for the world. On 3rd November 2021, Mamata got selected as a GDA staff in Sangh Netralaya, Kolkata with a monthly salary of INR 8500. Her first regular job ever.
Happiness knew no bounds for her and her family. After all, the unbelievable happened to them. Now, Mamata’s son, Soumyadeep goes to school and learns music at a local institute nearby home. The teenager Mamata wanted to learn dance and music but destiny had other plans for her. She changed the destiny of her child with her patience, hard work, and determination. Something that every woman can do if they get the right chance.
Mr. Vinod Pandit, Manager of Sangh Netralaya is extremely satisfied with Mamata’s work performance and dedication. His appreciation shows in the form of an increase in her salary which is INR 12,000 every month now.
Giving Back To The Community
One could often find Mamata and her family members talking to other community members about the STeP livelihood programme. They want others to also enroll in the courses offered by the centres to benefit from them and become economically independent. The curse and crisis of the pandemic battered their spirits but the fire to rebuild their lives proved stronger.
When asked who you love the most in the world, Mamata answered, “Family. The answer will always be family.”
Smile Foundation and Livelihood Programme
Smile Foundation’s livelihood programme has trained over 75,000 youth with more than 47,000 youth placed in 400+ respectable brands across the country. Become a part of our livelihood programme here or get in touch with us to learn in detail about our livelihood-related interventions.