The Job-Training Project for young people from Athidiya, a highly deprived community outside Colombo, has the potential to transform life-chances for young women like 18 year old Shamila. Shamila is bright, energetic and displays great leadership – even when she was 12 and 13, she was the one who organized the younger children, helped put on the Christmas Show, spoke up when visitors came and helped with translation. Her single-parent mother had been young when Shamila was born, but did later get married and Shamila helped to look after her younger sisters while her mother sought occasional work as a cleaner. But her relationship with her stepfather has always been difficult. He works as a day-labourer, hoping each day to secure some work on a building site.
As part Asha Trust’s support for the community, we have provided Shamila’s school with classroom resources and a breakfast club which has meant she was making good progress. Yet life in deprived communities is often challenging, and when she was 16, a crisis in the family meant Shamila had to leave school. She did not sit her O levels and had to get a job. Since jobs are rarely advertised in Sri Lanka, she was dependent on the contacts her family and neighbours had to get her first job. They did their best and helped her to get a job in a small factory, doing a menial job and earning less than $50 per month with no prospects for training or advancement.
It is this cycle that our Job-Training Project seeks to break.
Thanks to your generous support, we are able to offer Shamila and others like her the chance to apply for a vocational training course in the hospitality and tourism sector, which is one of Sri Lanka’s major employers but remains closed to young people who don’t know anyone who can help to get them that crucial introduction. Trainees will gain a recognized qualification, practical experience and an introduction to potential employers in high quality hotels and restaurants. We anticipate that young people like Shamila will be able to earn a regular salary, bringing some financial security to her family. By securing a job with a reputable employer outside her immediate community, she will also be able to introduce others to the hospitality industry.
On 18 January the Asha Trust team and the course leaders will interview young people who have expressed an interest in this programme. More than qualifications or skills, the panel are looking for young people who are determined and hard-working, willing to travel the 5 miles to the capital city to work in unfamiliar surroundings. We will limit this first cohort to 15, so that we can monitor each trainee’s progress carefully and keep you updated. Once the first group complete the three month course, we will evaluate the programme and make any changes needed before rolling it out further.
Many thanks for your donation. We will update you once the selection process is complete and the trainees begin the programme.