Yogeshwar is a former student of Reality Gives’ Youth Empowerment Program. When I first met him in June 2012, he told me a little about his background. He had passed his HSC in Commerce and went to work at Matunga Labour Camp. He worked as a garment maker for three years and then went to work as an airport security guard. He had wanted to study further, but time away from education meant he had lost his motivation. Instead, had an ambition to remain in the security field, but to work abroad. For this, he knew he would need to improve his English, and this is why he had enrolled in the Youth Empowerment Program. His determination to move forward in life was very clear. During my time as a volunteer with Reality Gives, Yogeshwar stood out as an exceptionally motivated student. He requested additional conversation classes and worked hard to maintain long conversations in English. His hard work soon paid off.
Soon after I left Dharavi, I received an excited email from Yogeshwar letting me know he was off to the USA. He had been selected to work as a security officer for the cruise company Carnival Cruise Lines. He had signed up for a six-month contract and left almost immediately! Now, both of us are back in Dharavi, and I have been finding out about Yogeshwar’s experiences. Yogesh was working on vast cruise ships with a capacity of 4000 guests and an additional 1200-1400 crew members. His duties included checking passenger identities as they boarded the ship, screening baggage, providing security at private functions and drawing up incident reports so that any issues could be dealt with appropriately. Working conditions were tough. He worked long night shifts, answered to strict bosses and had very little time to explore the exotic locations, relax or keep in touch with friends and family. However, there were some real benefits to his experience. Yogesh has made many friends. His colleagues were mainly from India and the Philippines, but he got to know people from all over the world. Yogesh has had the chance to travel from LA to Mexico via Hawaii and Honolulu, and from Miami to the Caribbean and back. He describes the beautiful weather and the way this job has opened his eyes to far flung parts of the world. And, most of all, he has had a chance to speak English with people from all over the world. He now speaks confidently, fluently and accurately. Although Yogesh says he still has trouble understanding some accents, the British accent included, he feels much more comfortable conversing in English. He is now back in Dharavi for a two month holiday. He’s waiting to hear from the agency about his next departure date. Within two days of his return, Yogesh gave current students of the Youth Empowerment Program a presentation about his work on the cruise ships, including a slideshow. The other students were clearly very engaged and interested in what Yogesh has to say, asking many, many questions about his feelings and experiences.
Thank you Yogesh – you have helped to inspire other students and give them an insight into employment opportunities beyond the Youth Empowerment Program. We all wish you the best of luck with your future career.
This article was written by the volunteer Laura who works very closely with the YEP students to research for her English Language Learning Program for mobile devices.