Published: 20th November 2021
Looking for heroes? This book chronicles stories of 50 disabled bravehearts who braved the pandemic to find jobs
The book is compiled by NGO Youth4Jobs, who dipped into their own pool of students to find youngsters who have moved heaven and earth to go beyond their disability
Reinventing the very definition of 'hero' is the book 50 Stories - Jobs for the Disabled during COVID Times, which puts forth stories of those youngsters whose mission was to strive, to seek and to find jobs and not to yield to an impending pandemic or their own disability. There is no glamorising the hero trope here, these are real and inspirational stories. "For kids growing up, the idea of a hero is associated with either glamour, money or power. But in the long run, we all know that you need to be a leader with a purpose. So, we are broadening the definition of a hero," says Meera Shenoy, Founder of Hyderabad-based NGO Youth4Jobs who have played an instrumental role for these heroes in the making by skilling them and connecting them to jobs.
The focus of Youth4Jobs has always been to train the youth and by going online during the pandemic, they have been able to cast their net far and wide. So much so that training of the disabled increased by 54 per cent and 59 per cent of these youngsters hail from aspirational districts. Youth4Jobs' determination to turn adversity into opportunity was receiving praises from all quarters and that's when Shenoy decided to pour in four months of time, along with two teams, to compile stories of inspirational disabled youth from the 6,000 eager participants of their training programmes who skilled themselves and bagged jobs. The stories of 50 youngsters included in the book are from across India and various disabilities like cerebral palsy, visual impediment and even multiple disabilities have tried to stop them, but couldn't. They serve not just a dose of #MondayMotivation, but motivation for day-to-day life as well, to be honest.
Book cover | (Pic: Youth4Jobs)
For Jammu and Kashmir resident Aizzaz Ahmed, whose damaged lower limbs have been a deterrent, he is now working as a cashier at MAX Health Services and earns upto Rs 96,000 annually. Shashank Kamath from Karnataka has a deteriorating condition and multiple disabilities that keep him from stepping out of the house, but he now holds a work-from-home job. Jharana Mallick from Odisha has thalassemia and after working at Cogent E Services, she quit to start the Institutions of Thalassemia and Disable Warrior Trust and won a National Award for it. Even a wheelchair couldn't keep Rajasthan's Piyush Vijayvargiya from bagging a job that pays about Rs 2.31 lakh at Accenture. Similarly, a hearing and speech impairment couldn't keep Kerala's Karun K from landing a job with Gramin Dak Sevak with a salary of Rs 1.30 lakh annually. You can find many such stories in the 156 pages of the book, wherein every story gets four pages, pictures of the 'hero' and a brief vignette about where they are from and what they have achieved.
What is it that Youth4Jobs has done differently when it comes to training them? They simply acknowledged the ability in their disability unlike looking at them from a different lens that society tends to do. They tapped into their ability and helped them get jobs. Amazon India alone hired 2,100 hearing and speech impaired youth from them. "Once employed, these youngsters don't drop out randomly, work harder and a job means a lot more to them than it does to anyone else. Because in most houses, the disabled mouth is the last one to be fed. They are very hard workers," explains Shenoy who has worked with the government too and has won multiple awards as well.
The book is receiving rave reviews with people writing to Shenoy from many parts of the world, like Angela Genova from the Department of Economics, Politics and Society, University of Urbino, Italy. And she is already onto her next mission, initiating Grassroot Academy where their alumni with disabilities will reach out to those from the grassroots and encourage them. There is also an Artificial Intelligence-enabled accessible job portal for the disabled in the making.
To read the book, email Meera Shenoy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Soon, they will post a link on their website https://www.youth4jobs.org/ which will directly take you to a soft copy of the book