Shabnam : A Rainbow Home Young Adult
Transition to adulthood is particularly challenging for children who were in difficult circumstances, being formerly on street, facing vulnerabilities and exploitations. Rainbow Homes Program, in its decade-long existence, has provided comprehensive care to over 3000 children, many of whom who are in their teenage years currently. These young adults need to be provided with care and guidance that help them transition smoothly into adulthood – skills and opportunities for post-secondary and vocational education, income generation, social integration and independent living outside the homes. Keeping in mind, the specific needs of these young adults, Rainbow Homes have designed an appropriate transition programme “Udaan” - literal meaning ‘taking flight’ for them. The whole aim of project Udaan is to prepare these young people get emotionally strong and assertive in being able to start living on their own, taking everyday life decisions, learn financial management to be able to take care of their personal expenses, become socially involved in society as a global citizen, help support their family (living relatives, immediate family, siblings etc).
Your donations under the Udaan Project, are core funds that help the caretakers design programs that help these young adults to research education avenues, find jobs, a placement, get coachings for competitive exams, stipends for group living, undergo life plans assessments (where they chart out their career plans with the help of experts and counsellors). It becomes a new life for them where they have triple the burden than that of a normal legal adult. They have to :
Transit out of the residential care home of rainbow homes and Sneh ghars and find out a place of their own which adds up to their personal expenses which were covered earlier : (housing & rent, electricity and commute, food and health, education fees etc)
Secondly, they have pressures of continuing their further studies, where they should keep good grades and also look for avenues in education that can provide them with student exemptions, sports scholarship or government or institutional scholarships.
They have to look for a source of an income (part-time jobs) to keep continuing studies, support their immediate or remaining family (surviving parents, siblings or close guardians)
They have to upkeep their emotional balance, ensuring they eat healthily and upkeep their physical strengths.
This report talks about one such young adult named Shabnam, who as a young adult is reaching her legal age and has begun her transition into proper adulthood under the Udaan Program. Shabnam is a 16-year-old girl who has been living at Kilkari Homes since 2008 along with her 4 sisters. She is currently pursuing class 10th from Government senior secondary school, Chabiganj. She has also been enrolled in NIIT for a 4-month course on basic computers and spoken English. She aspires to work in an MNC and understands that it requires a lot of hard work and fluency in English to be successful in the job and is ready to take up all the challenges which come her way. On talking to her about this program as a workshop means to her and how it might help kids her age step into independent living she responds that - we teens have to go through such an extreme change, living a sheltered life among the home mothers, and friends and rainbow family and then within a year once you pass your 12th grade you're asked to choose career options. Emotionally its scary, and strenuous. We need to be very sure about what we need to take our major subjects, what’s our interest, how will that position me as an adult in my career, what designation will it be? How to study for it? How much to study for it? Where to study from? The cost of study materials, which government college can provide me with good scholarships? How to be eligible for it? Which exam to take in and when? What I the criteria and pattern of the exam? What will be the fees? Can I take advantage of the Indian Reservation Quotas? How long will it take for me to complete my studies further? How much will I earn, will I be able to take care of my family, my siblings or not, where will I live, how will manage to do household chores and attend regular classes, do I need to take up extra jobs on a part-time basis to support my personal expenses? The list appears endless of all the ifs and buts. Emotions of fear, hopes and expectations, dreams and aspirations get all mixed up. I remember, feeling so confused whenever someone asked me this question.
After she underwent the four-day workshop of Udaan in the northern region of India, Sidhbhari Himachal Pradesh, with 186 other young adults like her, she transformed her worrisome state into a more confident, cheerful and hopeful self where she now adds up the experience as “fun, learning, a wonderful opportunity to make new friends, extend your dreams and vision, get hands-on help with experts in your selected field, and best way to remove your doubts and fears. A change of pace and place where the workshop was helped me see more of the world, it was an exciting place in the mountains to achieve higher concentration and focus and it was my very first time seeing mountains and the life people live there. Being close to nature and with new friends to make I learnt there are other things in life and that my own tragic childhood is one of the stories amongst the other hundred of my friends. Their struggles and their smiles showcase the inner strength and determination they have for the future. It hugely inspired me to give in my best too.
“Kilkari Rainbow home is very important to me as it provides me with education, emotional and financial support and it helps us engage in various extra-curricular activities such as dance, sports etc. All the house mothers and staff are really supportive and guide me to do well in life” - Shabnam.
On being asked about her views on challenges faced by the young adults and herself, she states:
“The major challenge in education which I feel is that most children are not fluent in English and have a hard time understanding and speaking English properly. Also, another major challenge is completing 12th before leaving Rainbow Home as many children start their studies late and aren’t able to complete it till 18 years of age.
- career guidance
Many children are weak in studies and don’t want to opt for courses that require better educational qualifications. Though we are provided with regular career guidance sessions, yet I feel many young adults are unable to utilize the opportunities to the maximum.
There are many opportunities for all the young adults, still many young adults are not able to grab it as the minimum requirement everywhere is 12th or graduation due to which the kids feel anxious and pressure of passing the exams.
- responsibilities on you?
I mainly feel responsible for my sisters who are staying at Kilkari. The challenge here is that I am sceptical if I will become successful in life before I could support my siblings.
- personal health?
There is a lot of pressure on us about completing education and professional course simultaneously. As we turn 16, we are enrolled in a professional course alongside our studies. This is a good thing as we are given opportunities, however, sometimes it does take a toll on personal health.
- Financial planning on your own?
I feel scared thinking about the time when I leave Rainbow homes. One thing which always makes me think is the thought that I will have to pursue my education and work for a livelihood simultaneously. Financial planning may become difficult at that time as I had to pay for my education as well as my day to day expenses which will also include the rent of the place where I will be living in.
- Family Support (whether you will support or they will support you)
I want to financially support my sisters and all the children of Kilkari Rainbow Home through donations and sponsoring and helping them in any way I can.
Wishing Shabnam the best of luck for her first flight to her dreams!
Morning Session of Udaan Workshop
Session : Qualities of a good Human being
My life till now, reminiscing life events
Shabnam teaching her siblings.