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Alohomora: This NGO Is ‘Unlocking’ Career Potentials For Youngsters From Low-Income Families

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‘Alohomora’, the famous unlocking spell from Harry Potter, had saved the protagonists of the fantasy series from many a dangerous situation. In our everyday world sans magic, Alohomora Education, a non-profit organisation from Delhi is unlocking potentials in young aspirants from less privileged families. For the students of 11th and 12th standard in government schools, this team is providing vocational training to hone their individual skills and propel them towards the right career path.

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A creative training session in progress

Boys do menial jobs, girls get married

While urban teenagers from a well-to-do background dwell in a dilemma over whether to choose engineering or medical, the problem is slightly different for a large number of high school students from low-income families. Coming from a position where earning the daily bread is the primary concern, often their career dreams are curtailed due to lack of proper guidance and direction. As a result, brilliant brains find themselves stuck in menial jobs, where ambition has no entry. It is worse for the girls, who are considered ready for marriage the moment they graduate school. Due to a general lack of awareness, only a handful of students from underprivileged succeed in making their mark in different career fields.

Alohomora
Learning all about software

A bleak future

This is where Alohomora Education comes in to save the day. Founded by IIT-IIM graduate Divakar Sankhla and University of Michigan alumnus Parinita Jain, Alohomora Education is catering to the needs, dreams and passions of around 1,500 youngsters so far. “Students in low-income government schools are often the first-generation learners in their families. 11th and 12th-graders are often completely clueless about their career choices, and they have no one to mentor or guide them,” Divakar informs Efforts For Good.

“Before we started, we surveyed many government schools in Delhi and Gurgaon. We found that around 97% of the students get less than 80% marks. And since ours is a marks-based educational framework, most of them fail to get admission into decent colleges. They consider their 12 years of schooling as a waste. Boys are left with no choice but to take up some computer or basic English course, and girls mostly surrender to family pressure to get married. As a result, they inevitably drift off to a bleak future,” he shares.

 

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How Alohomora saves the day

So how do they achieve the ‘unlocking of minds’? “We expose the students to a horde of activities based on different career domains. Each person picks up something as per their area of interest. Our experts identify their skill sets and the students are trained accordingly for two years so that they can easily secure the right jobs or higher education after school,” Divakar explains.
Some love to paint, while another might be good with machinery. While one has a knack for writing, another can be an efficient designer. “There are so many newer job prospects coming up these days aside from mainstream academics, nobody at home can tell them about these. So, our responsibility is huge, to make them aware, mentor and groom them accordingly and ensure they don’t fade away,” shares Paramita, adding that all their projects are well-aligned with the school curriculum.

Alohomora
Akash Kumar is a part of the Fitness project of Alohomora

Technology plays a key role in their personalised learning modules. “For every group of three to four students with a similar interest, we provide a tab and internet connection. They can choose projects and work on it, while our experts provide all necessary guidance alongside,” she shares.


Stories that inspire

Damini, who had a flair in the drawing, found her forte in animation. She gained a lot of expertise through Alohomora projects, which allowed her to take up online courses in design and animation. She is now pretty determined to be an animator.
There’s Anil, a teenager crazy about football. But he realised it is a little late for him to start from the basics. So he has joined a local football club as the coach’s assistant. “Not only is he earning for himself, but he is also getting free training,” Divakar informs.

Alohomora
A girl who found interest in fashion designing

The story of Sonia is equally amazing. She was interested in healthcare, but she did not have the exposure to train for the medical entrance examination. Instead, she opted for nursing and is pursuing a three-year degree now with a full scholarship.
Perhaps one of the best aspects of Alohomora is how they create a cooperative team from a group of strangers with similar skills. Paramita shares the story about a group of teenagers who collaborated to learn programming and have now decided to align their careers in the IT trajectory.

Overcoming challenges

Working with so many youngsters can be quite challenging at times, the two founders admit. Divakar believes that the existing societal emphasis on marks is killing many dreams at their roots. That is why Alohomora ensures that both the students and their parents are on the same page about their future. The trainers meet with the parents from time to time, intimating them about the aspirations and potentials of their wards. They also work in close coordination with the school management committees and teachers, to promote a more interactive classroom learning experience. While guaranteeing a bright future for the students, this tech-based foundation wishes to reach out to a billion youth by 2025.

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Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.
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Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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It's not how much we give
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- Mother Theresa Quote
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