“I remember asking myself – “Could I care for a patient?” says the 18 year old Pinki, incredulously. Pinki is a caregiver working with Aaji Care, a home-based provider of services to the elderly and the sick. She earns Rs18,000 a month looking after Mr Gaur (name changed), an octogenarian who has been diagnosed with hypertension and dementia. Providing round-the-clock care for the senior citizen, she is heartened by the praise she receives from her patient’s families and relatives.
But that is at present. Earlier, she was full of doubts, and lacked self-confidence. Orphaned at a young age and supported by local NGOs working with women in distress, Pinki had completed her schooling until Std.9. Kshamata, her NGO support put her in touch with the Tata STRIVE Development Centre (TSSDC) at Navi Mumbai, which falls under the Skill Development Initiative of the Tata Trusts.
She had to travel 40kms to the centre, but that didn’t bother Pinki, who was keen to better herself and become independent. Using an interest inventory – a picture-based algorithm that matched the interest of the learner to a specific course, the counsellor revealed that Pinki’s natural flair matched to the General Duty Assistant (GDA) course. Though she decided to enrol immediately, her self-doubt remained.
“Initially,” says Komal Kurne, the GDA course faculty, “her low confidence levels were clearly evident. But a week and a half later, the transformation began. She listened and learnt concepts of a patient’s grooming as well as more advanced tasks such as monitoring a patient’s key health indicators. In addition to the poise that know-how of one’s technical domain brings about, Pinki became particularly fond of the Youth Development Modules (YDM) that helped her increase her poise, hone her employability skills, and transform from within.”
Pinki loved her classes, and never missed them if she could help it. She also liked her classmates whom she was ready to help given a chance. She concluded the training with a healthy attendance of 95%, and successfully completed a one-month on-the-job training at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Hospital, Mumbai.
Today, her patient’s doctor is happy – in the three months that Pinki has been looking after Mr Gaur, the latter’s key health indicators have shown an improvement. Her mentor at the training centre also has words of praise for Pinki’s hard work, responsibility, and general demeanour. She praises her initiative in learning soft skills, and her encouragement of her other classmates.
Pinki does miss the classes and the sessions at TSSDC, but is full of gratitude for the nudge that Tata STRIVE gave her along the path to achieve her goals.