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23: Odisha -Empowering Women through Skill Training

The Situation

Odisha is one of the poorest states in India, with a high number of tribal and scheduled caste populations in the rural areas, often migrating to the southern part of India or to other states to earn their living. A pilot study revealed that many migrant youths reside with unfavorable living conditions in this slum and have eked out meager income from unskilled works. As they migrate to other states with no employable skills, the youth are often abused and paid poorly. St. Joseph Seva Sadan Community College has a strong development presence in Bhubaneswar for the last 12 years with skill training for the marginalized youth in marketable skills.

Odisha is one of the states of India with a very low percentage of educational achievement. The quality and retention of students are very poor and alarming in many of the districts prone to migration. Due to the involvement of NGOs for past years, many children were motivated to go to school and complete their higher secondary school education. However, higher education is a distant dream for these children as they cannot afford the city’s high fees and other expenses. The only possible option before them is to do some job-oriented courses. But it is also very costly in private institutions. St. Joseph Seva Sadan started some job-oriented courses for these vulnerable children in general duty assistance, industrial sewing machine operation, and fashion designing with spoken English, life skill training, and basic computer skills. The students who complete their training are placed for a job in various industries. We have success stories of many vulnerable youths. Such as the youth who was addicted to drugs, engaged in anti-social activities, succumbed to bad companies, etc., and now has been successfully rehabilitated through skill training and job placements.

The Sisters’ Response

St. Joseph Seva Sadnan Community College is a skill training center established in 2008 by St. Joseph of Annecy (India) Society. In 1986, when the government of Odisha developed the capital Bhubaneswar to be declared a city, all the slums were evicted. The slum dwellers were displaced and settled in the outskirts of the city. Many of them settled in Jokalandi that falls under the Bharatpur slum. Around 15,000 street dwellers came to be settled in Jokalndi. Later, the number of people who migrated to the slums of Jokalandi grew with the communal violence in Kandhamal. Sisters of St. Joseph of Annecy came to live with the slum dwellers from 1987 and started to serve them by opening a health care canter and providing educational facilities. In 2008 with the generous help of many well-wishers, Sisters established St. Joseph Seva Sadan Community College to support the young people from the slums and interior villages of Odisha through skill training. Since 2008, they have trained around 4,178 students, and 85 percent have successfully placed in industries that provide them with good job opportunities.

More than 200 young women and girls benefit each year. They specialize in industrial machine operation, fashion designing and retail management along with proficiency in English, working knowledge in computers, tally for accounting etc. Besides the above professional education, the students are also given psychological counseling, legal aid classes and other skills”

Sr. Remya Thomas

Funds Needed

Total Fund required – $9759 per/year

Food for 220 students @ $1.50/day
Three teachers’ salaries at $408/mo. 
Fees and study materials for 220 studies at $30/yr.
Repair and maintenance of the machines = $816 
Printing and stationary = $352 
Admin/placement charges = $600
Electricity charges = $653

Goals and Objectives

By empowering women through skill training, we hope to eradicate the evils of:

  • Human trafficking and flesh trade
  • Unsafe migration of young girls and child labor
  • Illiteracy
  • Support families who have lost a job or the breadwinner due to Corona
  • Poverty and gender-based discrimination

Systemic Goal

Empower a woman and empower the nation is true in every sense. Women are the backbone of any family both for its financial stability and in its social life. Often women are deprived of learning and earning their livelihood. Thus, skill training for women will go a long way in helping them achieve their dream to stand on their own feet and live a dignified life. Creating opportunities for vulnerable young women to engage with society will reduce the stress and unrest among the youth significantly.

Through this project, we propose to provide the deserving young women skill training, thematic awareness classes and provide facilities to be settled in urban situations in the case of poor young migrants, etc. St. Josephs Community College has trained 4,178 students through the years, and 85 percent of them are successfully placed for jobs. Most of them have become breadwinners and have led changes in their own villages, society. They have fought against child marriage, child labor, etc. St. Joseph Seva Sadan Community college is also planning to start a production center soon where students who are not interested in working in textile export companies can be placed. The production unit will produce school uniforms for the schools. On the same campus, Sisters of St. Joseph of Annecy run an Odiya Medium School and an English medium School. In the twin cities of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, we have around eight Christian Schools that will order the uniform stitching. This will help us support both for providing employment opportunities and support the sustainability of the skill training.

Therefore, we invite you to partner with us to realize this project for the cause of poor and disadvantaged young women. Our invitations to the young women “learn a skill and earn a living”.

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