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Date: 31st December 2017
Category: Humans of D98  

TM Amith Bhanudas | Toastmasters Club Of Pune-South East

TM Amith Bhanudas is a Past President of the Toastmasters Club of Pune South East. In this article, he shares with us his experience of going to the LoC and imparting job-skills training to the locals.

I have always wanted to enjoy diverse experiences. But, experiences need directions.

I found a direction towards a memorable experience through Mr. Sarang Gosavi and his NGO, ASEEM Foundation, both from Pune. Mr. Gosavi and ASEEM have been involved in various social, educational, and cultural initiatives across India. Mr. Gosavi spoke at TEDx about his experiences in the Kashmir Valley. As a TEDxPune volunteer, I got to understand his work intimately and was inspired and enthused by the efforts. I connected with him and his NGO and volunteered to work for them.

Incidentally, ASEEM was collaborating with the Indian Army in Kamalkote village of Uri town in Jammu and Kashmir. Kamalkote is located near the Line of Control (LoC) and is sensitive in many aspects. The purpose of this initiative is to build trust with the locals by providing them vocational training so that they can finally pursue government jobs in IT. Eager for experiences, I was only too glad to volunteer as a trainer and started preparing for it.

My tryst with the locals of Kamalkote began on 14th August 2017. I stayed with the Indian Army at their guest house. The training began on 16th August for 11 boys and 10 girls. The locals were inviting and even enterprising. The training experience was great. My work mainly included providing the local graduates exposure in computer skills such as MS Office, especially Excel. I focussed on train-the-trainer sessions to enable sustenance of future batches.

Alongside, I introduced them to Organizational Culture and operations. This took care of efficiency and process to run the center. I collaborated with the Army, the village head, and ASEEM to introduce a proper fee-structure and help sustain future batches.

None of this was easy. Our biggest roadblocks were power and connectivity. Frequent load-shedding hampered schedules. I had to travel 5 kilometers to make a phone call! The sweetest challenge of all as a Toastmaster was the language issue. Actually, the locals speak Pahadi/Punjabi and Urdu and rarely use English. So much for the Grammarian and the WoD! The good thing was they do understand Hindi, and that was the bridge. The only sensitive area was security. I had to be escorted by the Army to and from the IT center. All challenges faded as I had the locals, the Army, and their indomitable spirit supporting me.

I am glad that this training program is helping the Army build confidence among locals and bridge differences. Importantly, 20 of the valley's youth from the valley are more confident about training others and taking up jobs. The people there have great potential. They are hopeful of a bright future, despite their conditions.

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience of training youth along the LoC and look forward to many more such illuminating experiences. Hope you enjoy some great experiences too!

Edited and compiled by Taaha

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