Don Bosco Technical Institute is a large campus in the south of Delhi. Its ambition is to teach youth 18-35, who are marginalized from the ‘new economy’ jobs, how to enhance their employability.
So on a sunny day at 9:30 we set out to pay a visit. Although India sometimes feels quite foreign by its traffic, getting to Don Bosco was just like I do it at home in Amsterdam: Uber. The driver was there in 5min and 20min later he dropped us in front of a big old iron portal.
VISITING DON BOSCO
The first thing I noticed after the quick security check-in was how beautiful the garden is. It’s kind of roundabout with a perfect green pitch and plenty of colorful flowers. Later on we discussed with the gardener who works here for 25years and we complimented him for the amazing garden he made.
Then I looked around and I saw an old but well maintained large building and a soccer field.
As I was distracted, Hitesh, our contact person at Don Bosco, approached, snappily dressed in a brightly colored patterned suit. Laura and I, expecting a less formal meeting, were dressed in T-shirts and jeans, and all of a sudden we felt quite underdressed! Nonetheless, he welcomes us warmly and escorted us to the door of a classroom.I immediately saw a big Philips poster and knew I was definitely in the right place! 🙂
A TEACHING MOMENT
Immediately I felt everyone become nervous: “how to act natural!?!” Laura told me later that this is something she encounters a lot. I had no doubt that she’d be able to get them to relax, but also noticed that they dimmed the lights for the lesson, so they could use the beamer. That could make it tricky, I thought…!
I sat at the back of the room to listen to the course which was half English half Hindi. It reminded me my own electricity lessons. The teacher explained what electricity is,where it comes from, how it’s transported, and I’m happy to report there was a strong emphasis on green energy and safety.
After an hour we left the class to meet the Principal,He’d been leading the institute for 50 years, and his passionate eyes let us know just how strongly he felt about its purpose.
He gave us a tour and it was impressive to see the myriad programmes they propose: construction, electronics, mechanics, plumbing, power sector, printing – and more. His ambition is to train 8000 students a year and he was proud to share the new work in progress: a 7-floor building to host them all!
BACK TO CLASS
It was hands-on sessions where groups of students had to create serial and parallel electrical network including lamps and switches to explain the difference between those two options.
I used that opportunity to interview individually 3 students to get a better understanding of their stories. I felt again the stress in their voices but I quickly understood the challenge for them was actually to speak English. Luckily Hitesh was here to translate and then they relaxed and spoke freely.
Scroll down to find those portraits. To me it was a very great moment, it helped me understanding how tough culturally, socially and economically it can be to come from rural villages or disadvantaged families. Coming from Europe you easily forget how easy it is to access education — something that we take for granted others work very hard for.
The day is now over, it was a long day and we have our minds full of experiences but even so Indian’s hospitality reached us back : they invited us to have some snacks and lassi in the city before to say goodbye.
Shehnaz is a young woman of 21 years old and she’s in a family of 5 sisters and 2 brothers from a village near to Delhi.
She’s a strong person, she lost her father in 2011 and her mother completely disapproved the idea to have her daughter becoming electrician.
It’s important to understand that from certain regions and especially from rural villages girls should do the housework and the entire community is against the concept to have woman doing anything else including electrician.
So even if her mother and the community was against, thanks to her brothers she managed to join Don Bosco Tech. Since that time she got the buying from her mother because she’s the only person at home able to fix electrical issues.
Shehnaz is brave, she knows only 1% of electrician are woman, she wants to prove she can do it even better than men but she knows, to get a job, she will have to convince the interviewer who might not be ready yet for hiring a woman. Her answer:”I can’t handle the community but I can fix their electricity”
Vikalp is a man of 36 years old leaving in Delhi. He has a commuting time of more than 1h to reach the institute and he does it every day. Like others he’s in this program for 2 months and has done half already.
Vikalp has always been interested in electricity since his father has an electrician shop. Unfortunately he didn’t succeed his scholarship with public schools due to some personal obligations and joining Don Bosco is a second chance.
One of his key learning is there are units and tools to measure electricity. He now wants to know everything about electricity but what he likes the most is electrical wirings.
Obviously he wants to become electrician and he’s convinced to find a job in less than 6months preferably in Delhi.
San Dhwa Shukla is a woman of 34 years old and has 2 children: 7 and 11 years old. She has a master in political science but she stopped everything after her marriage to take care of the children and house.
Now that children are older she’d like to get a job but it’s too difficult to find in her branch especially farter such a break. Since she has always been an handy person, always fixing products when she heard about Don Bosco from a friend she decided to join with the ambition to later have her own shop.
Right now it’s difficult to deal with both lives but her husband is really supportive since he also don’t want her to do nothing. As she says “you can’t get anything by easy hands” and it’s only for a short period.