In the realm of social development, we strive to create meaningful and lasting impact in the lives of the individuals and communities we serve. To effectively evaluate the efficacy of our programmes and initiatives, it is crucial to engage with beneficiaries and understand their experiences, challenges, and successes.
Recognizing the importance of capturing authentic voices and narratives, we introduce to you this unique interview module named, Soul and Substance to enhance indirect beneficiary and donor engagements.
This innovative interview module goes beyond the traditional approach of data collection and offers a more holistic understanding of the beneficiaries’ perspectives. By adopting a person-centered approach, this module aims to delve deeper into the beneficiaries’ lived experiences, providing invaluable insights into the effectiveness and relevance of social development initiatives.
The interview module has been carefully designed to foster an environment of trust, respect, and empathy, ensuring that beneficiaries feel comfortable sharing their stories and perspectives. It aims to create a safe space where individuals can express their thoughts, emotions, and aspirations freely, allowing for a comprehensive understanding of the impact of Smile Foundation’s social development programmes on their lives.
Here is the story of a very enthusiastic and highly confident Akash Rathor (19 years) trained in our livelihood programme, STeP’s centre located at Sangam Vihar, New Delhi in his own words.
Q. So Akash, I can see here that you are just 19 years and already contributing to the family’s income. How is your financial contribution important to you and your family’s needs?
I didn’t score well in my senior secondary examinations. It’s not that I am not smart, it’s just that I am a little weak at academic learning. My father who works as a Salesperson in a clothing shop never forced any of us children to start earning. But I strongly felt the urge to become financially independent and to take care of my own expenses.
The good thing is apart from taking care of my own needs, I am able to help my family too. Maa doesn’t have to ask Papa for money every single time anymore. Her wide smile when I place the majority of my earnings on her palm is honestly worth the 8:30 hours every day that I spend in my office working.
Q. How did you learn about this livelihood initiative? What skills or knowledge have you gained through the programme that have been most valuable in getting your job?
One of my close friends enrolled at this training centre recommended visiting this training centre. Since I am enrolled in a B.A.Hindi course through distance learning, I had a lot of free time, and learning new skills didn’t seem like a bad idea. I enrolled myself in the Core Employability course and in my 3 months of being here between January to March 2023, I learned communication skills and computer training.
I always knew what to say but lacked the confidence and the right vocabulary for carrying on long conversations in English. The transformation that I felt in those 3 months is honestly remarkable. Did you realise that I am answering your questions in English without stammering even once? If you had met me last year, all you would be hearing were broken English words and me resorting to Hindi whenever my English sentences embarrassed me.
Q. Can you tell us about your present job? Where are you working? What is your designation?
I am working as a Chat Support Advisor with Concentrix, Cyber City, Gurgaon for the past 2 months. I solve the queries of their USA and Canada-based clients and till now, the learning experience has been enriching and rewarding. INR 21,000 is my monthly salary which I think is a great beginning.
My family is happy that I work hard and can now take care of myself. They talk to me like a grown-up now and involve me in important family decisions too. It feels good to be seen as a responsible person whose opinions matter.
Q. Your journey is quite amazing Akash. Now, on a lighter note, let’s talk about your family. Who are all there in your family and what kind of relations do you share with them?
We are 5 in total, my parents, my elder brother, my sister, and me. But I am the most intelligent out of the three siblings (laughs out loud). No, seriously I am. You can ask my brother, he too is trained here and now placed with Zara. But my brother is like my best friend. We have each other’s backs on everything. My sister and I fight like the cartoon characters Tom and Jerry.
My parents are easygoing people. Simple things make them happy and content. It’s funny, nothing simple makes me happy, but I am young and have so much to learn. Maybe when I get to their age, simple things will make my day. Who knows!
Q. What is your ultimate dream? Is the current job your end goal or are your aspirations different?
Not many ask me about my dreams. But I know that I will be a Hindi professor one day. I know it will be a difficult and long road ahead, but I will get there. I read a lot of Hindi poetry and epics. The poet Kabir is my idol and the lessons of Ramayana have deeply impacted the way I live my life.
So being a professor would mean having the chance to pass on all that I have learned and observed. I think teaching is the noblest of all acts and I see myself doing a good job in that role.
Q. One last question, what is your advice to people of your age?
To learn as much as possible. If regular courses are not an option for you, then you should get enrolled in a course like Core Employability. Get a start early on in your life and explore every medium of becoming knowledgeable and financially independent. Most of all, remain positive and enjoy an ice cream whenever things look too sad.
Akash Rathor is a Core Employability module trained beneficiary of Smile Foundation’s livelihood programme, STeP (Smile Twin e-Learning Programme), and is now successfully placed as a Chat Support Advisor with Concentrix, an American business services company specializing in customer engagement and business performance, at their Gurgaon, Delhi NCR location. He is determined to make it big and bold. And we are here to cheer him on in his journey of success.
Smile Foundation leaning into the right trends of the time is training the youth from the disadvantaged sections of society in Core Employability, Healthcare, BFSI, BPO, Retail Management, and Digital Marketing course modules. More than 75,000 youth have been trained till now in different livelihood courses with 47,000+ youth placed in more than 400 respectable brands all across India.