I remember that every Hyderabadi took pride in the inauguration of the Hyderabad Airport in the year 2008, including me. Whenever I fly in and out of Delhi and Hyderabad, I am awed at the massiveness of the project. Of course, I did know about GMR as a business giant during my college days too.
GMR and the modernisation of airports are synonymous with each other. In an age when private companies hesitated to invest and tie -up with government projects, GMR took the plunge and came up with State-of-the-art airports in Delhi and Hyderabad as part of Public-Private Partnership.
An insightful visit
So, when I was invited by Varalakshmi Foundation-the CSR initiative of GMR, to take a tour of the ‘Centre of Empowerment and Livelihoods’ (CEL) near Delhi Airport, I was more than happy to accept the invite.The visit was in conjunction with Teacher’s day and 25 years of Varalakshmi foundation’s efforts to bring a change in the society.
On 5th of September 2017, as I entered the CEL premises, there was an aura of positivity and happiness around, both among the students as well as the people working there.
Upon arrival, Ms.Meena Raghunathan, Director, Community Services at GMR Varalakshmi Foundation, walked us through the activities of GMRVF and we were informed that the CSR unit in Delhi is working with a population of approximately 20,000 covering three locations. The key thrust areas include Education, Health, Hygiene and Sanitation and Empowerment and Livelihoods community development. Implementation of various activities under these three verticals is being carried out directly by DIAL CSR with the technical support of Varalakshmi Foundation (GMRVF), from planning to execution.
The GMRVF runs the CEL to provide market relevant employable skills to under-privileged drop out youth in the age group of 18-30 years. The CEL that I visited was established in September 2009 with a built-up area of more than 10,000 sq ft. The centre is well equipped with classrooms, hostel, mess, work shed, library, seminar hall, playground and other facilities.
Some of the salient features of the Vocational Training Program that is offered FREE of Cost are:
- Provides skill training in 10 different trades in collaboration with credible industry partners and giants like Voltas, VOLVO, Schneider et, al.
- Training is provided for candidates of the fifth pass to Graduate level.
- The program is usually a 3-month course dealing with theory and 45 days of Practical training.
- Since its inception in 2009, a total of 4000 youth have been trained and about 3374 been placed.Almost 15% trainees are working in IGI Airport in Delhi through different vendors.
- Residential vocational training centre having a capacity to train approximately 750 youth per year with the settlement success rate of 84%.
- Integration of Soft skill training, English speaking and Personality Development to ensure job readiness of trainees.
- The centre has a well-developed system for the mobilisation of youth, counselling training on soft skills, placement and post-placement support.
- Some of the courses that are offered ranges from Computer operation, Quality check in Garments,Customer Service Associate,Refrigeration and A/C repair course, Electrical ,Facility Care Management ,Excavator course et al.
- Recently introduced courses include Driving and Multicuisine cooking owing to market demands.
The Group we interacted with…My Take
We had an opportunity to interact with seven students who are undergoing the course.They were brimming with confidence and happiness for being given a chance to get trained and earn a decent livelihood. Upon interaction, we got to know that they all belong to economically poor families who are unable to pay for any vocational training.One of the students got to know about the facility through a friend and landed up at the centre from as far as Bihar.This goes on to prove the trust these youth have on GMRVF.
Ray of hope
Another lady student who is widowed with a child and in her early twenties was oozing with positivity for being given an opportunity to prove her capability.She has taken up the course on Quality Check and is sure of a placement and confided that a job will enable her to earn a living with dignity. It was heartening to hear and see the wonderful work that GMRVF is doing in moulding the youth from these underprivileged families.
Also, as an educator myself, I was able to empathise with the string of emotions these youth are going through and appreciate the commendable job being done by the faculty at CEL under the able guidance of Ms.Meena Raghunathan.
Various CSR activities of GMRVF
If you think that GMR is involved in just Skill enabling projects, then you are in for a surprise. Apart from CEL, GMRVF is also into Adult Literacy Program, After-School Learning Centres, Life Skill Program for adolescents, empowering the differently abled persons, community development and also in an initiative called EMPOWER.
Social responsibility, being one of the seven core values of GMR group, the employees of the group are encouraged to contribute personal time, attention and effort towards community development and social causes.
The initiative termed EMPOWER ( Enabling Marketing of Products of Women Entrepreneurs) facilitates training, production and marketing of a range of artefacts made by self-help groups comprising of women from underserved communities across locations in India-including Delhi.The activities include training in making jute-based products, handmade paper products, weaving and embroidery, stitching and marketing.
Currently, the products are marketed through two EMPOWER shops located at Hyderabad Airport Level C and Departure. The products are also available online through e-commerce sites like Amazon and Flipkart.
So, if you get a chance to visit Dwarka or the adjoining areas in Delhi, drop in at the CEL to get a glimpse of the commendable work that GMRVF is doing and contribute your services if required by the centre!