At 19, most youngsters dream of reaching for the stars and turning their aspirations into reality. For Amrit, this dream seemed distant, almost impossible to achieve. Livelihood opportunities in his hometown Bahraich were limited, forcing him to consider the option of migrating to Lucknow, the state’s capital. There, he would have to work as fruit or vegetable vendor, like many of his friends. But, his heart lay elsewhere - in technology and mobile.
Just when he was toying with the idea of migrating to the city, Amrit heard about a vocational training camp being conducted by the Aga Khan Foundation with support from Tata Trusts. This camp aimed to create awareness among the village youth about how they could enrol for and benefit from vocational courses on mobile repairing, driving and household electrical repairing – skills that would help them earn a living in Bahraich.
“I attended the camp and signed up for the mobile repairing course immediately. This was an opportunity I had always waited for but never thought would come my way so easily,’ shares a happy Amrit.
After completing the one-month course on mobile repairing, he wished to start his own business, but did not know where to begin. To help Amrit learn about setting up a shop and managing his finances, the Foundation linked him up to the local branch of a bank that ran a course on business management. This further strengthened his understanding of establishing a new business and equipped him with the knowledge of bank loans and equipment procuring processes.
A year on, Amrit Lal has a regular stream of customers and a steady income of Rs5000 a month from his shop. He is brimming with confidence and says, “My life has taken a different turn after undergoing the training. I’ve been able to start a shop, continue my studies and I now plan to complete my graduation after which I want to expand my business in Bahraich. I am glad I could follow my dream in my hometown and didn’t have to migrate to a new city.”
Amrit is a beneficiary of the Migrant Support Project, facilitated by Tata Trusts in the eastern district of Bahraich in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state. The objective of the project is to empower migrant labourers in the area to negotiate fair and better livelihood opportunities at their migration destinations. It also aims to improve financial and social security for migrants and their families left back in Bahraich. Another important goal of this project is to provide alternative livelihood opportunities to the youth in Bahraich and minimise the trend of relocation to bigger cities, which brings along its own set of challenges for migrant labourers. As Amrit puts it, “Migration is risky and full of uncertainties. There’s nothing like seeing your dreams come true in your hometown, like I did."