Himani, a 29-year-old woman hailing from low-income neighbourhood in Saketh, New Delhi was just an infant, when she lost her hearing. Educated in a sub-par school in neighbourhood, as a child, she communicated only through gestures and sounds. Most of the teaching happened through reading and writing in her school and she could not pick up sign language since the teachers were not trained in it. Somehow, she managed to finish her 12th standard and cleared her exams.
Motivated to learn more, Himani took advantage of any opportunity provided to her. A local NGO was running a training centre for hearing and speech impaired persons who wished to upgrade their skills and knowledge. During this time she was able to learn sign language and also enrolled in a program for basic computer skills. This remains an area of interest to this day. Although she was looking out for jobs, she was unable to get anything that was close to home.
Finally, in 2018, she was able to find work as contract worker in Minda Corporation, a company which makes auto parts for big companies. This was a good beginning for Himani and so she stuck on, earning Rs.8000-Rs.9000 per month for about a year, till she got married with a person with hearing impairment. When the covid-19 pandemic hit, the family came upon hard times after her husband lost his job in a big hotel chain. This forced her to once more intensify her search for employment. Finally, it was Inclusion 100 project of Leonard Cheshire, that provided Himani with the right opportunity.
The Delhi based NGO, EFICOR as implementation partner was able to reach out to, among other employers, Reliance Retail and facilitate their registration in the NAPS portal. At the same time, they were also able to go into the community to find interested and qualified candidates like Himani, who can be trained and placed in apprenticeships.
“Since we knew Himani’s father from our previous activities, we reached out and provided information about Inclusion 100. Himani was quick to enrol, after which we assessed her skills and interests. In February, she along with other candidates identified, attended the Ready2Suceed training where they were taught soft skills like communication, work place etiquette, etc”, said Payal from EFICOR.
After the training, Himani attended an interview with the management from Reliance Retail. EFICOR ensured that there was a sign language interpreter during the interview to ensure smooth communication. After a successful interaction, she was chosen to undergo apprenticeship training with a 15-month contract.
Reliance Retail paid her a basic stipend. This helped them to hold the fort for a few months until work resumed in June. Today, Himani is happy that she is able to contribute to household expenses with her salary of Rs.13000. She is also able to put away little as savings for the future. But the work does not come without its challenges. This is where the EFICOR team has stepped in to ensure periodic follow up and support. “Reliance Retail already has some experience in hiring persons with disabilities. But when there are some gaps, we usually guide the candidate about how to deal with a situation – for example writing a mail or letter to request for leave, etc. If there is still some adaptation or challenge, we also step in”, said Payal, from EFICOR.
The primary objective of the Inclusion 100 project, supported by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, is to promote livelihood persons with disabilities by linking them to the apprenticeship ecosystem under the Government of India’s National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS). This scheme allows for candidates seeking jobs to register while also enabling companies to post apprenticeship opportunities for candidates when they register under the scheme.