In the bustling lanes of Old Seemapuri, 20-year-old Durga often finds a quiet spot on a modest mooda. Her smiles are rare, reserved for moments of true amusement. Perhaps her self-consciousness about her front teeth holds her back. Living with her grandmother and uncle, she carries a past shadowed by her father’s struggles with alcohol and job loss following her mother’s demise. Durga’s experiences in Qalandar Colony, where she grew up, left her with a strong distaste for the area, marked by poverty and social issues. “It’s dirty. The people are bad. Many girls work as prostitutes,” she remarks with a tinge of disdain.
Her grandmother, concerned for their wellbeing, sent Durga and her sisters to a shelter home in South Delhi, offering them a chance to continue their education. A year after returning home, with her Bachelor of Arts studies on hold due to financial constraints, Durga took a job at a local garment store. The long hours and meagre pay soon became unbearable, leading her to seek new opportunities. That’s when she joined ETASHA’s Computerised Office and Data Entry Programme, fuelled by the desire to be self-reliant and support her family.
A few months into the programme, Durga has been witnessing a transformation within herself. She particularly enjoys the computer sessions. “In school, we barely had access to computers. Here, I can practice on a laptop and improve my skills,” she says with a hint of pride. Durga is also focusing on enhancing her typing speed, diligently practicing finger positioning and key memorization.
Her recent accomplishment is delivering her first presentation. “I was nervous, but I did it,” she beams. The feedback she received on her presentation skills, especially regarding body language and eye contact, has been a valuable learning curve. Ankita, Durga’s employability skills facilitator, acknowledges her potential. “While her communication skills need polishing, her insights during sales sessions are impressive. She understands customer needs and product features remarkably well,” Ankita shares.
Durga finds the sales sessions particularly enriching. “They align with my garment store experience. I’ve learnt about fabrics and customer care, and now, marketing and selling. This knowledge makes me confident about a career in retail,” she explains.
The World of Work sessions are her favourite. They’ve given her a clear vision for her future. “I’ve learnt about corporate life and career progression. In five years, I see myself in a respectable position, earning well, perhaps even able to afford our own home,” she dreams.
Durga appreciates the supportive environment at the ETASHA centre, offering a stark contrast to Seemapuri’s chaos. “It’s my escape from the turmoil at home. Here, I connect with peers who understand my struggles. It’s a space where I can focus on building a future I aspire for.”
Despite the emotional and physical challenges of her journey, Durga is steadily paving her way towards a brighter future, one step at a time.