Dreaming big: How two underprivileged youths rise above the cycle of poverty

For the underprivileged youth in northern India, Project Kaushalya provides a platform for them to break the poverty cycle.
15 January 2019

At the Noida Service Center in New Delhi, parcels of all shapes and sizes move swiftly down the roller conveyor. Delivery couriers stand ready on either side, waiting to collect them and load their vehicles up for their daily routes.

The job sounds straightforward enough, but Ravinder K Yadav is taking nothing for granted.

“Up until a few months ago I didn’t quite know what to do with my life, and suddenly I was presented with a chance to finally prove myself. This was my moment to shine, and I wasn’t going to turn it down,” he said on getting the job opportunity.

For the past nine months, his salary as a delivery courier with DHL Express India has helped in covering daily household expenses and miscellaneous bills for his family.

On the outskirts of the wealthy Nizamuddin East neighborhood, his family of five lives in a small home with barely enough space for everyone.

Ravinder plays with his daughter in their home on the outskirts of Nizamuddin East.

Ravinder’s job has eased the burden on his 45-year-old father Jaswant Singh, who used to be the sole breadwinner of the family with his income from running a roadside food stall.

“I’m extremely proud of my son. It’s a great feeling to see him secure a job and be independent. I feel that there is finally someone to look over me and my family. When I was the only one working, it wasn’t easy. But now there are two of us, and I couldn’t be happier,” said Jaswant.

Jaswant Singh (right) prepares food at his stall by the road.

Things did not always look this bright for Ravinder and his family.

The turning point

When his eldest brother, who was joint breadwinner of the family, passed away in 2016, Ravinder knew that it was time for him to come forward and shoulder the responsibility of supporting his family.

“My brother’s death made me realize that things would never be the same again. I knew I had to step up,” he said.

After months of job-hunting without any luck, things took a turn when one of Ravinder’s cousins alerted him to Project Kaushalya.

Project Kaushalya

A joint partnership between DHL Express and SOS Children’s Villages of India, Project Kaushalya helps underprivileged youth between the ages of 18 and 25 by equipping them with the necessary skills and job opportunities to become self-reliant and independent.

Since the program’s inception, more than 1,200 youths have been successfully enrolled. Among its alumni, up to 84% of them are now employed in well-known companies across different industries.

Apart from learning how to read and write in English, participants undergo in-depth training in modules like website design, accountancy, and desktop publishing, among others. Top graduates from the program are then given job placements to work and train as couriers at DHL Express India.

Participants of Project Kaushalya have the opportunity to undergo a variety of training modules that include the use of computer programs.

Realizing that this was his chance to turn his life around, Ravinder signed up with the program. Within months, his proficiency of the English language improved, and he mastered several computer programs, one of which was the Tally business accounting software.

Soon after, he was offered a job placement with the company.

First day at work

On his first day at work at Noida Service Center, Ravinder was given an extensive tour of his workplace by senior staff members, who showed him the different technologies and processes behind the operation.

“I had read up about the processes online, but when I witnessed first-hand the amount of technology and innovation driving the business, I was literally blown away,” he said.

Ravinder may have been on the job for only nine months, but he already has the future all planned out.

To move closer to his dream of buying a bigger house, he has begun preparations to pursue a correspondence degree in marketing that will help broaden his business management skills.

For him, the most important thing about being a courier is being able to put a smile on people’s face.

“Whenever I reach someone’s home or office, they are always glad to see the parcel that they have so eagerly been waiting for,” he said.

“When my customers are happy, I am happy. It’s as simple as that.”

Different paths, same goal

While pursuing his course under DHL’s Project Kaushalya, Ravinder met 21-year-old Talib Hussain — a courier who, like himself, has big dreams for the future.

Talib (left) and Ravinder (right) work together in the service center.

Before the program, the native from the village of Sarai Kale Khan did not know anything about computers. Today, however, he deals with advanced logistics systems and state-of-the-art inventory equipment.

“The program has absolutely changed my life because now, I have a way to help my family and make sure that they are okay,” he said.

Talib’s mother, 36-year-old Naseem, still remembers the day he handed her his first pay check.

“I cried when he gave me his check because I knew my son had found his purpose, and that this was the start of something special,” she said.

Paving the way

For Talib, his colleagues are his greatest motivators because they have progressed to leadership roles within the company in a short span of time, despite their relatively young ages.

“I look at the successes of my fellow peers, and know that I can do the same if I put in the hard work and constantly improve myself,” he added.

For Project Kaushalya’s administrator and placement coordinator Vikram Chawla, there is nothing more satisfying then seeing underprivileged yet deserving youths like Ravinder and Talib transform into hardworking and successful adults.

“The gift of education is the most important gift of them all. Programs like these are essential because they provide young adults with the chance to not only change their lives, but also the lives of their loved ones and future generations.”