Since 2007, ANUDIP has stood for one cause: to empower humanity through technology. And for 15 years, ANUDIP and our partners have worked to help at-risk youth from vulnerable communities and their families realize their potential, from wherever they are. In this journey, we have often come across many whose stories leave a mark on us. These are stories of grit, and stories where youngsters have broken the glass ceiling unknowingly. Every encounter with the protagonists keeps me going.
The bright young girl you see with me in the first frame is Pavithra, a 21-year-old ANUDIP alumna from the slums of Chennai. On my visits to the communities we serve, she narrated how her brother took up odd jobs in a local fish market since the age of 14. “He worked amidst dingy corners of the lane, yet never skipped his job” since his income bought food on their table. Their mother works as a house-help to support the ailing father, bed-ridden at the moment. The family of four lives in a 300 sq. ft room in a narrow slum near our Pallavaram Skills Centre.
“I want to design it different” the young girl assured when I asked her plans for the future. I was incredibly excited and grateful to learn that Pavithra got her first employment offer from Accenture, post her web technology training at ANUDIP. I felt a surge of emotions – as I heard the young alumna speak with sheer pride on how she made it to a top multinational from India’s unnoticed alleys. In the evenings, Pavithra teaches kids in her locality, and she won a community-development award for her pro-bono service. “The fact that I can speak in English amazes everyone,” remarks the shy alumna who has also learnt to make significant financial investments. I was deeply moved by this 21-year-old on how she took care of the health and nutritional needs of her family. “I can now take my father to a good doctor in a private hospital, which we could not afford before.” Her mother though very proud of the daughter, grins, “I cannot pronounce the name of the company she is working for.”Casually, Pavithra promises me, “I want more girls to shoot for the stars from this slum so that they never find themselves feeling the same way I did.”
The highlight of my last Maharashtra visit was my meeting with a vibrant girl in her early 20s who pursued a Java Web Training from our Vashi Centre. Priyanka Bhore comes from a small village called Valati in the Ambegaon tehsil of Pune. “For a major slice of my village living under the poverty line, quality education takes a back-seat as we find struggle even to fulfil our basic needs” noted Priyanka. And yet, I could find a deep desire in the young mind to make their daily lives simply bearable, being the first generation learner in her family.“Continuing college was challenging in my set-up yet sponsorship helped” marked Bhore. She is an Analyst at Capgemini post her Java course, earning an amount – which she marks, “My family never saw so much money together in a single month.”But I found her a little heartbroken when she claimed, “that my village still believes that a son can be a salvation and could bring them out of poverty.”From innocent rebellion to wanting to break free and prove her worth, our conversation signified just how much potential this girl had. “I have availed medical insurance for my parents and opened up a savings account for my family”, Priyanka assured while she thanked me and our faculty to give her and show the world what a little dream can achieve!
The Priyanka’s and Pavithra’s of the world teach me resilience, and tenacity, each day. All I pray for fervently is that these girls continue to walk on their own terms in the future and become the ambassadors that they have the potential to be. There is so much more in store for these girls, writes, Monisha Banerjee, Chief Executive Officer cum Chief Mentor, ANUDIP.
Founded by Dipak Basu and Radha Basu, who are global problem solvers spending much of their lives in social entrepreneurship employing technology in humanitarian missions worldwide, this non-profit has impacted over 150,000 at-risk youth over 18 Indian states, as well as the United States and Bangladesh. The current CEO and Chief Mentor of the Human Transformation Model at ANUDIP, Monisha Banerjee, passionately meets youth from opportunity-limited backgrounds ushering them to make informed life decisions and achieve financial empowerment.