Those in the lowest socioeconomic status (SES) groups, don’t get proper education, regardless of whether it is formal school-related education or skills-based education. As a result of low education, these individuals are not able to get formal or high-paying jobs that indeed can help them attain a sustainable livelihood. However, these people without receiving proper education, don’t get good jobs thereby continuing the same cycle and remaining in the lower SEO groups.
Mendlife Foundation is a non-profit organization with one of its objectives as supporting these underprivileged youth so that they are able to attain sustainable livelihoods and have a higher quality of life. Mendlife does this by providing classes/sessions to improve communication and employability skills and put them in touch with HR representatives of different companies.
The founder of the organization, Mohit Dudeja previously worked with a non-profit where he provided training for underprivileged youth on employability skills and placed them in different organizations. He was in touch with these underprivileged communities, even after having left his job with this organization. He was essentially the only hope for the youth of the community since he was the one who prepared them for placements, took them to exposure visits, and placed their peers in different organizations and his face was known to the community.
After having left the organization, Mohit wanted to continue supporting the underprivileged communities, so decided to take classes on the weekends. This organization was officially registered on October 9th, 2017 as Mendlife Foundation however, the classes were being conducted before that as well.
The project first started in Sawda, Ghevra where Mendlife partnered with the community library to provide these classes. Partnering with the library didn’t prove to be an easy task since it was not an official partnership and there was no MOU[memorandum of understanding] formed/signed. However, after multiple meetings and persuasion, the library agreed to let them conduct classes using their space. Even Though they were able to get a space to conduct their classes for free, other things such as stationery for the classes were bought by Mohit himself, and it helped that he had a full-time job for these expenses.
These sessions were conducted with the help of volunteers. In the initial stages of this project, the curriculum wasn’t properly set as the team was still trying to get an idea of how much the youth already knew and they found that they had to start from the basics. At present Mendlife Foundation has a particular curriculum that all the volunteers are to follow but they have some liberty when it comes to how they execute (pedagogy) the same. The classes started with basic sentences and grammar and advanced to more technical aspects of the language over the 3 months of the courses. Towards the end of the 3 months, they provided training to prepare the youth for job interviews, so that they are able to attend interviews and get a job.
The project started at Sawda in Delhi and later expanded to more locations such as Cheeka in Haryana, Srinagar in Kashmir, Ranibagh in Delhi, and Uttam Nagar in Delhi. The same pattern of teaching with volunteers continued for all these places.
However, with the worldwide pandemic that started in March of 2020, all the sessions came to a halt. Even though they couldn’t do a lot of sessions, they didn’t let the pandemic stop them. They started online classes for the children and youth in Kandur, Chennai. Mendlife partnered up with a church and arranged for a projector and speakers, and volunteers were able to conduct the sessions from the comfort of their homes. However, it could not sustain for a long time due to the electricity issues in that area.
This project is now on hold because of the pandemic but as the restrictions are slowly being lifted, Mendlife is looking forward to starting sessions again to empower the youth and help them attain a sustainable livelihood.
Written by: Srihrithini Sivakumar