Since this past April, Sharana social workers have been canvassing the villages surrounding Pondicherry in an awareness-building campaign. Students and volunteers participating in Sharana’s summer camp 2012 also took time to redouble our efforts to publicize the availability of the training program, and increase awareness of the benefits to school drop-outs in the region.
Twenty-two students applied for admission to the training program, which is housed in a building adjoining the Aranganur Community Center, and fully equipped with the best machinery. All applicants were from the surrounding villages, and all were school drop-outs who were compelled by family and circumstances into agricultural coolie labor. Eight were finally selected based on family background and need. All are between the ages of 16-19. One boy, for example, had been abandoned by both parents, and was living entirely on his own. It is cases like his that remind us of the worthiness of vocational training projects that empower and enfranchise rural youth by giving them marketable skills to which they would otherwise never had access.