Heroes of Today


Published on

The Heroes of Today is a collection of case studies on iLEAD programme of Aide et Action International (AEAI) South Asia.
AEAI South Asia realised that given the opportunity to learn and develop appropriate skills, youth from the marginalised and underprivileged communities can reach out to emerging opportunities and lead a dignified life. Hence, in an effort to equip them with skills required to meet the current market demands, AEAI launched the Institute for Livelihood Education and Development (iLEAD) programme in India. The programme is aimed at enabling dropout youth in the age group of 18 to 25 years from marginalised sections of society to gain sustainable and dignified livelihood through employability training in various trades.

Published in: Education, Business
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Heroes of Today

  1. 1. Heroes of TodayiLEAD programme taps the latentpotential of India’s marginalised youth Heroes of Today 3 iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  2. 2. Documentation and Designing: New Concept Information SystemsEmail: communication@newconceptinfosys.com
  3. 3. Heroes of Today iLEAD programme taps the latentpotential of India’s marginalised youth
  4. 4. Message from the Director General,Aide et Action InternationalIt is my pleasure to know that Aide et Action South Asia team is comingout with a collection of real life stories of young women and men who weregroomed by our iLEAD programme - the vocational education programmeto enhance their skills and employability prospects.It is a matter of great pride to know that this publication recognises themas Heroes of Today and it represents the stories of tens of thousandsof other youth who have undergone iLEAD training in the last couple ofyears. The effectiveness of training is demonstrated in these stories inthe form of their level of confidence and satisfaction and the manner inwhich they are leading a much more meaningful life now.These stories, I am sure, will become a source of inspiration for manymore youth in India and across the globe. This publication and stories ofyouth with their changed destinies will encourage other regions of Aideet Action and many other organisations to learn from the processes ofiLEAD programme.I take this opportunity to congratulate the Aide et Action South Asia teamfor successfully carrying forward this powerful programme with regularimprovisations. I wish them every success in their efforts to continuechanging the lives of many more marginalised and excluded youth, whohave been pushed out of the schooling system and other developmentalprocesses.With best wishes,Claire CalosciInternational Director GeneralAide et Action International
  5. 5. ForewordThe best way to measure the impact of any development intervention isperhaps to ask the clients themselves. This publication is an attempt inthat direction. But when we started understanding the impact of iLEADprogramme from its graduate trainees, we realised that their stories andexpressions had tremendous potential to inspire many more excluded andmarginalised youth to come forward, take control of their life and lead theworld. These iLEAD alumni have not just changed their own destiny but havestarted taking leadership for the development of their own neighbourhood,community and larger society.And all this could happen because of regular improvisation in the iLEADprogramme, where youth also participate in various discussions on subjectsof larger social relevance, while acquiring vocational skills.One of the six challenges identified by the National Skill DevelopmentPolicy of India is to increase capacity and capability of existing systemsof vocational education. To tackle this challenge, the proven processes ofiLEAD programme encouraged us to initiate a four-year long project withthe Government of Andhra Pradesh to reorient its vocational educationprogramme. Similarly, we are also supporting the Government of Punjabin developing its 20-year vision document and infrastructure developmentplan for the employment generation sector. The quality of suggestions inour first report has been appreciated by the government primarily becauseit includes our learning from iLEAD programme.I believe that these life-stories of young women and men would encouragemany more organisations to take up similar approach to involve youth in thenation building process; and it would invite other governments to embarkupon reorientation of their existing skill development and vocationaleducation facilities using iLEAD principles.Ravi Pratap Singh
  6. 6. ContentsEmpowering the marginalised section, the iLEAD way 1Transformed life 6Nothing is impossible!! 8Counselling to conviction!! 11Scripting the right path 13Breaking conventional routes... 15A new lease of life 16Finding the path 18Nothing is impossible 20Bringing out the best 22Living the dream 24Learning of a life time 26The grit to change ones’ destiny 28About Aide et Action 30
  7. 7. Empowering the marginalisedsection, the iLEAD wayIndia’s booming economy has been experiencing a high annual growth rateof over 8 per cent triggering new employment opportunities. This impressivegrowth rate, however, has not been matched with availability of a competentworkforce which can exploit the emerging opportunities. The country’s educationand training efforts are, for the most part, inadequate to prepare the young forthe emerging market demands and providing value addition to existing jobs.Apart from technical skills, emphasis today is also on factors like linguistic andcommunication skills, computer literacy and presentable personality. This is justone indicator of a rapidly changing economy that will create new challenges foryouth entering the workforce. The need for a more flexible and mobile workforcewill require new skills and greater adaptability among youth.AeA realised that given the opportunity to learn and develop appropriate skills,youth from the marginalised and underprivileged communities can reach out toemerging opportunities and lead a dignified life. Hence, in an effort to equip themwith skills required to meet the current market demands, AeA launched theInstitute for Livelihood Education and Development (iLEAD) programme in India.The programme is aimed at enabling dropout youth in the age group of 18 to 25years from marginalised sections of society to gain sustainable and dignifiedlivelihood through employability training in various trades. The objectives of thisprogramme include accessing entry level employment opportunities, povertyalleviation thereby reducing number of people living below the poverty linein the intervention area, enhance personality & life skills, support the youthhaving exceptional aptitude and interest emerge as successful entrepreneursand catalysts for employment opportunities besides advocating adoption ofsimilar approaches in private and state-run training programmes focusing onemployability and entrepreneurship opportunities especially for youth from themarginalised communities.Towards this, iLEAD has worked out training modules, tailor-made for the existingmarket demands. The focus is as much on imparting students with technical skillsas with personality development including improvement in spoken English and Heroes of Today 1 iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  8. 8. communication & behavioural skills. This is done through regular interface with local business, industrial and other potential employers for course development, training methodology, placements, building backward and forward linkages and to match up with market demands. The initiative strives to address social equityThe focus is by giving priority to marginalised communities like dalits, tribals, landless, womenas much on and disabled persons by ensuring that at least 80 per cent of the beneficiariesimparting are from BPL families, besides aiming at entrepreneurship development andstudents with progression of candidates to higher levels of income and responsibilities.technicalskills as with iLEAD’s effective training are complemented with both pre- and post-trainingpersonality activities which include studying the market demands in the selected areas ofdevelopment intervention through Employability and Entrepreneurial Potential Assessmentincluding (EPA), mobilisation of candidates through Community Mobilisation Drives (CMD)improvement and spreading awareness about the programme, placement support and regularin spoken counselling of candidates, their families and also the employers. The courseEnglish and curriculum is developed on identified trades specific to local market needscommunication following the EPA, and in consultation with leading business establishments andand behavioural subject experts. EPA is conducted once in six months to understand the changesskills. in the emerging market. Equal emphasis is given to selection of faculty. Persons with at least two years of industrial exposure pertaining to the respective fields with sound practical knowledge and good communication skills are selected. The faculty are also encouraged to network with industries to facilitate quality learning and job placements for the candidates. Prior to selection the candidates are informed of the objectives, course details and teaching methodology adopted by iLEAD. The selection involves an aptitude test to identify a prospective candidate’s interest besides counselling of the family. The induction process, carried out in an informal environment, itself is an exercise in ensuring healthy teacher-student relationship, dialogue, boosting self-confidence and team-building besides working out an ethical code of conduct. The training module not only aims at providing technical skills through participative teaching methods but also aims at arming the candidates with life skills to ensure that they emerge as better and confident individuals. That around 200 hours is devoted on development of life skills speaks volumes of the importance attached to personality development so necessary in the current market environment.2 Heroes of Today iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  9. 9. Based on local market demands iLEAD offers 30 trade courses throughits 96 centres in the country. These includes Information Technology,Automation Technology, Hospitality, Sales and Marketing, Beautician,Dress Designing, Secretarial Practices, Refrigeration and AC Repairing,Apparel and Garments and Mobile Phone Services and Repairing. Duringthe training, guest lectures are organised where business leaders andsubject experts interact with students which help them develop the rightattitude besides exposing them to both opportunities and challenges.Subsequently, they are placed in actual workplaces for ‘on the job training’ for2-3 weeks which prepares them for employment and acclimatises them withreal work environment.In the post-placement activity, the iLEAD faculty prepares the students for jobsthrough counselling and assessment. iLEAD’s reputation as a quality traininginstitution is maintained through placements of suitably job-ready candidates.Each iLEAD centre also forms an alumni association which acts as a forum foremployed candidates to share their experiences to appropriately guide currentand potential candidates, in further strengthening the curriculum besides beinga source for appropriate placements.The major focus of iLEAD at present is on urban areas. Though there are centresin rural areas, these have to be contextualised according to the local economy,particularly focusing on agriculture and allied activities. AeA is gearing up to facethe challenges and has been making efforts to contextualise iLEAD into ruralareas with new set of trades, curriculum and teaching-learning processes.Several governmental agencies, not-for-profit agencies and corporates haveextended their support in the successful implementation of iLEAD’s programmesand these include Gujarat Urban Development Mission, Ministry of RuralDevelopment, Andhra Pradesh Tribal Development Department, Catholic ReliefServices, Tamil Nadu Women’s’ Development Corporation, National Bank forAgriculture and Rural Development and Schneider, L’Oreal, Lanco and HindustanUnilever.The 94 iLEAD centres in the country have so far trained a total of 72,000 candidatesand placed more than 50,000 candidates thereby enabling quality change in thelives of these families. It would not be unfair to say that iLEAD has developedinto a win-win model for both the marginalised communities and businessestablishments. Heroes of Today 3 iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  10. 10. Besides focusing on employability, iLEAD simultaneously strives to develop its students into ‘change agents’. This is accomplished through Gossip Circle for Empowerment (GCE), an open forum which provides space and opportunity to discuss issues of substance for their comprehensive growth. This includes orientation and sensitisation on basic values like gender equality, pluralism and multiculturalism, knowledge building on their rights and entitlements through understanding of workers’ rights, sensitising them on social issues of child labour, early marriage and providing them with a global perspective too like how globalisation affects one’s life and community. The testimony to iLEAD’s success can best be heard from those who passed out of its centres. In this random survey of iLEAD students cutting across the country and various social groups including marginalised youth, women, Dalits, tribals and even a transgender, the remarks have been the same – that the iLEAD experience had brought about a complete transformation in their otherwise desolate lives. Most of them believe that the emphasis laid on personality development had changed their attitude towards life and had even changed their lifestyles. Overall, the approach has had a positive effect on them and many were even considered as role models and worthy of emulation in their respective communities following the transformation.4 Heroes of Today iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  11. 11. Employment and Entrepreneurial Assessment Lead Industries Development of Curriculum Subject Expert Identification of Instructors and their Training  CMD  Aptitude Tests  Counselling Selection of Candidates  Registration & Admission Establishment of  Procurement of Furniture, Life Skills iLEAD Centre Computers Personality  Procurement of Trade Development Specific Training Tools Spoken English Training of Candidates  Setting up of Practical Technical Training Entrepreneurship Labs Skills Placement and Career Discussions on Issues Guidance of Social Relevance Alumni Forum Heroes of Today 5 iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  12. 12. Transformed life Nothing is more rewarding than achieving a position where one is considered as a role model and worthy of emulation, particularly if one hails from a poor family. Afreen was frank For 17-year-old Afreen Begum of Hyderabad, iLEAD showed the way that if there enough to tell is will, anything can be achieved. Hailing from an impoverished family – she lost them that since her father when she was just five – Afreen discontinued her studies after class she was neither 7 since her mother, the only bread-earner for the family, could not afford it. Her good in English mother was also forced to take loans for her eldest daughter’s marriage and also nor adept with to make both ends meet. computers, she had chosen Even at such a young age, Afreen was sensitive enough to understand the situation tailoring. The and wanted to contribute to the family kitty. Her sister, who had undergone iLEAD team training in tailoring at the iLEAD centre before being placed at a garment factory, enrolled her for encouraged her to join the centre. Afreen did not require much persuasion sincethe Garments and she was already interested in tailoring and was keen on supporting her family Apparels course. and be economically independent. When she visited the centre, the supportive faculty enquired about her aptitude and interest in tailoring. Afreen was frank enough to tell them that since she was neither good in English nor adept with computers, she had chosen tailoring. The iLEAD team enrolled her for the Garments and Apparels course. Afreen was delighted with the elaborate course package which stressed more on practical training and encouragement to come up with new designs through hours of practice. “The course is designed keeping the market demands in mind,” she recalls. On completion of the course, she was offered a job by Venkata Ganesh Garments, a readymade garments workshop at a monthly salary of Rs 2500 and free bus pass. Both sisters with their combined income have managed to clear the loan of Rs 10,000 taken to meet the cost of the marriage. 6 Heroes of Today iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  13. 13. Afreen also recalls those days of poverty when the family had to go hungry.“I had always dreamt of a day when I will have enough money to spend and thisis the first step towards that.” The teenager has also realised that for one tosurvive in this world, one needs to have skills besides the fact that money can bea major confidence-booster. And the gutsy youngster is set to achieve more inlife and improve the standard of living of the family.The sisters are grateful to iLEAD for opening the doors of opportunity for themand for transforming them overall. “iLEAD experience has changed our entirelives, even the way we think and the outlook towards life,” she says. What makesAfreen proud is the fact that her relatives often quote the sisters’ achievementsto their children and the need to emulate them. “This is a morale-booster butwe are also aware of the additional responsibility of living upto everyone’sexpectations,” says Afreen, promising to motivate and encourageother youngsters like her to join the iLEAD family.I had always dreamt of a daywhen I will have enough moneyto spend and this is the firststep towards that. Heroes of Today 7 iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  14. 14. Nothing is impossible!! A transgender’s quest to live life like all others is a seemingly difficult proposition, but given proper and timely guidance, counselling and opportunity can do wonders! Asin was one such transgender who did not want to fall into the trap of sex trade or begging, as often happens with transgenders. iLEAD played a key role in helping Asin establish herself not only in terms of economic independence but also finding an identity for herself in society. Born Arumugam in a remote village in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, the road ahead was tough for the youngster since she had developed feminine characteristics. To put an end to all misery, Arumugam decided to undergo sex change surgery and became Asin. Despite extensive counselling, her family refused to accept the eventuality, forcing Asin to join a group of transgenders. “When most transgenders get involved in the sex trade or resort to collecting money on the streets, Asin was determined to lead a life of dignity and stand on her own feet,” says the guardian of the group, underlying the grit and determination of Asin. After a short stint as a beautician at a Bengaluru beauty parlour, Asin gave in to her passion to help other transgenders in her home town and joined the Tirunelveli Social Service Society (TSSS), an NGO involved in spreading awareness on AIDS. It was here that she learnt about iLEAD and it was only a matter of time before she joined the ITeS course. The faculty at iLEAD, proactive and sensitive, counselled other students at the centre before Asin joined the classes. This helped Asin to gel in with others without any problem. “Asin is a very friendly person who does not lose her cool in any situation. In fact, we enjoyed the training sessions with her as much as she learnt from us and we still keep in touch with her,” says a faculty member. Heroes of Today And for Asin, the days at the centre were a delightful experience. She was8 Heroes of Today iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  15. 15. never made to feel that she was different from others. Says the empoweredyoungster, “It was an encouraging experience for me and I seized the opportunityto learn and grow as a person. My aim now is to help other transgenders, spreadawareness about AIDS and the importance of education in one’s life.” She is alsodetermined to mobilise and motivate at least 20 members from her communityto join iLEAD.Speaking about her pre-iLEAD days, Asin says: “I was very frightened of meeting For Asin, the dayspeople since I believed that being a transgender, I would be marginalised and at the centreostracised by society. In the absence of any exposure to literature on successful was a delightfultransgenders, I was terrified about revealing my condition to anyone. iLEAD, experience sincehowever, brought about a change in me with their positive attitude and non- she was neverdiscriminatory approach. I never felt different from others in the classroom, and made to feel thatthis was basically due to efforts of the faculty, and gradually I emerged out from the she was differentshell of embarrassment and guilt.” from the others.Now a confident girl, Asin only feels sad about how most transgenders wasteaway precious time and not seek help. She says iLEAD is the ideal place for peoplewith different backgrounds and ways of life to come together and even becomerepresentative role models for others. More importantly, Asin says that iLEADtaught her that success is not measured in terms of one’s career or exteriorbeauty, but is more of an aspect concerning one’s heart and attitude towardslife. It also gave her insight that, provided with appropriate support, transgenderstoo can lead a successful and productive life. The sensitivity and inclusivityexpressed by iLEAD also helped others to understand the challenges faced bya transgender.Asin now works as Team Leader for Peace Health Centre in theirproject to spread AIDS awareness and earns a monthly salary ofRs 4500. She also imparts training in computers and different social skills toother transgenders which helps them to cope with the varied challengesthey face. Her colleagues at workplace regard her as a balanced and matureprofessional and one who maintains cordial relations with all. “As a teamleader, she takes bold, creative and at times unconventional decisions based onthorough objective analysis of the issue. Always presentable with a smiling face,Asin is a true representation of a person who has successfully fought all odds.”says a colleague. Her success story provides inspiration and encouragement toothers and sends out a clear message particularly to transgenders that nothingis impossible. Heroes of Today 9 iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  16. 16. The iLEAD faculty at Tirunelveli feel that Asin’s case caps their achievements since they had succeeded in bringing about effective inclusion by adopting the right attitude and approach. My aim now is to help other transgenders and spread awareness about AIDS and the importance of education in one’s life.10 Heroes of Today iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  17. 17. Counselling to conviction!!“I never believed that iLEAD could change my life, but here I am, as evidenceto the fact that an organisation can indeed transform a person’s destiny,” saysKranthi, a 26-year-old daily wage earner-turned-entrepreneur.Initially sceptical about joining iLEAD, Kranthi today is grateful to theorganisation and its team for the persistent counselling following which hetook up the ITeS course. He realised that it was not merely tall claims when hecame face to face with the teaching methodology and how the course designallowed space and opportunity to learn the skills.Kranthi, a Scheduled Caste hailing from Pulaigudem village near Paloncha inKhammam district, Andhra Pradesh, had completed his graduation but wasunable to get a job. After repeated attempts, he returned to his village andworked as a daily wage labourer first and later on took to driving his friendsautorickshaw. He was unhappy with the meagre income despite the hard work.Kranthi came to know about iLEAD during a Community Mobilisation Driveconducted by SECURE, a non governmental organisation and partner of AEA, inhis village. He was among a group of 35 youngsters who showed interest, butdecided to skip it when he realised that joining iLEAD would not allow him toearn his livelihood. But the persistent counselling and encouragement by theiLEAD team convinced him and based on his qualification and aptitude, he wasselected for the ITeS course.A stickler for punctuality besides being hard working, Kranthi made amazingprogress achieving high skills in typing and designing within a short period.Such was his dedication coupled with the personal attention shown bycourse instructors that he could design a visiting card or a wedding card in 20minutes! Heroes of Today 11 iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  18. 18. On completion of the course, he was placed with Quality Printers at Paloncha for ‘on the job’ training, but the employer, impressed by his skills, absorbed Kranthi as a full time employee on a monthly salary of Rs 2500. His salary was doubled within six months but Kranthi was restless and keen to do something on his own when he realised that most printers were not doing a good job. The perfectionist that he was, Kranthi brimming with confidence after his stint with iLEAD, decided to set up his own DTP unit. With two years of experience behind him and the determination to achieve success on his terms, he once again approached iLEAD and SECURE for advice leading to applying for loan. The SC Corporation sanctioned a loan of Rs one lakh and June 4, 2009, became a red letter day forHad iLEAD not Kranthi when he opened his own DTP unit at Paloncha.counselled andconvinced me, The budding entrepreneur now has a firm footing and thanks to the training atI would still iLEAD and his attitude, his business is doing well with a healthy and dedicatedbe driving the clientele. Kranthi’s parents are all the more happy because they never thoughtautorickshaw. their son would establish his own business, leave alone providing employment to others! In his own words, the turning point in his life was the persistent counselling by the iLEAD team when he was undecided about joining the course. “Had they not counselled and convinced me, I would still be driving the autorickshaw,” says a grateful Kranthi.12 Heroes of Today iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  19. 19. Scripting the right pathMere qualification does not help in reaching out to ones’ dreams of leading asuccessful life. It is equally important to be in the right place with conduciveenvironment for learning to undergo the real process of change developingoneself as a person with a positive and confident outlook. Meena Kumari,25-year-old, a Scheduled Caste woman whose life had only seen a string ofpersonal tragedies, realised this when she became a part of the iLEAD family inDelhi.A graduate, Meena lost her father when she was just six years old. To add tothe family’s woes, her sister too lost her husband and came to live with her The teacher-widowed mother along with her four children. Meena tried to supplement the studentfamily income of Rs 3000/- by pasting bindi on paper. She was ambitious and relationshiphad a dream of a good life notwithstanding poverty, personal tragedies and the was anotherdepressing living conditions of the slum area around her. She did a course in aspect which shestenography from ITI, Seemapuri, Delhi, believing that it would help her get a job, believes playedbut all efforts were futile as she failed to get through several interviews as the a key role in herjobs demanded good spoken English, typing speed and overall personality. learning process.Opportunity knocked her door when iLEAD conducted a Community MobilisationDrive in her area, and she didn’t let it slip away. A vivid and fervent student,Meena opted for the Information Technology course, and acquired whatshe could not at ITI. Within weeks, her typing speed on computer improvedsignificantly, as it was one of the prime focus of employability skills. This wassomething she lacked when she had passed out of ITI as she was trained on amanual typewriter.Meena strongly believes that her success story was scripted by iLEAD, aninstitute where individual attention is given to each student and provides anamicable environment which is the base for nurturing their personality. Theteacher-student relationship was another aspect which she believes played a Heroes of Today 13 iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  20. 20. key role in her learning process. As if to prove a point Meena landed up with a job as a stenographer-cum-secretary within two months of her training course as against the third or fourth month when students are usually sent for interviews. Meena found a better job as an LDC with Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciences in New Delhi with a salary of Rs 8000 per month. Her passion for quality life does not rest here she has still not reached the peak. Meena says that she is preparing for interviews with banks and railways which is her next goal in her life. Says an iLEAD faculty who was closely associated with Meena’s training: “Meena is now empowerment personified.” Equally proud is her mother who says “it’s a nice feeling to be the mother of a person who fought against all odds and found the path to success. Needless to say, she is also grateful to iLEAD for not only changing Meena’s life as an individual but also for bringing about a transformation in the family as a whole.” Today, Meena is proud that she can take care of her entire family including her widowed sister and her children.14 Heroes of Today iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  21. 21. Breaking conventional routesReena came in contact with iLEAD through a friend and sought admissioninitially in the Beauty Care course. However, the Programme Officer at theiLEAD centre had a bold and revolutionary approach and encouraged the girlsto take up courses which were generally considered male dominated, like the Reena believesAutomobile Trade course. He advised the iLEAD team to discuss with prospective that, but foremployers the possibility of employing girls in hitherto male-dominated areas the supportand found the negotiations encouraging. Following the initiative, Reena and she receivedthree other girls switched from the Beauty Care training. from iLEAD, she wouldn’t haveReena’s perseverance added with the iLEAD team’s patience, motivation and been where sheencouragement paid off when the former was placed with an organisation for ‘on is now.the job’ training. Some people were shocked to find a girl donning a mechanic’soverhauls and working on vehicles with tools in her hand. However, on successfulcompletion of the training, the company was hesitant to offer her a job becauseshe hailed from a backward and illiterate family. The iLEAD team again took uponthe task of getting a placement for her and approached the company, which flatlyrefused to give Reena a job. Instead, they expressed willingness to take in twoboys. Not willing to give up on Reena’s case, the team made repeated visits tothe company and pointed out that she had not done anything wrong during hertraining period. The company finally relented, and to the surprise of all the partiesinvolved, even gave Reena a promotion and appointed her as a receptionist. Shewas entrusted the responsibility of customer care which she has been doingefficiently. The employer too is happy as the iLEAD team discovered during post-placement visits.Reena’s mother, Kishuni Devi, has since given up her roadside business becauseher daughter was not happy with the location which was near a liquor outlet.A grateful Kishuni Devi attributes the change in their lives to iLEAD and is veryhappy with her daughter’s progress. Reena is also ensuring that her youngersister, who is in class 8, goes through her studies. She believes that, but for thesupport she received from iLEAD, she wouldn’t have been where she is now.The stint at iLEAD and the subsequent transformation has given her a sense ofsecurity since her job provides her with perks like provident fund and medicalinsurance. Heroes of Today 15 iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  22. 22. A new lease of life Pulling out a person from a totally desolate situation, where one has attempted suicide and has withdrawn into a depressive shell, indeed is a herculean task. But the iLEAD centre at Gurgaon did just that and helped Santosh, an HIV+ widow, transform her life and make it more meaningful. For the 25-year-old graduate daughter of an automobile mechanic in Rewadi, Haryana, fate played a nasty trick when she was married to an HIV+ person, who deserted her after only one year of marriage. Santosh was facing a bleak and depressing future when she too tested HIV+. Unable to bear the thought of being a burden on her parents, Santosh even attempted to end her life. It was during this period of extreme depression that Santosh came to know about iLEAD through her brother’s friend. When she sought help at the iLEAD centre, she was in such a bad shape that she could not even interact with anyone or face people. The Gurgaon iLEAD team, however, went about with the task of pulling her out of the shell with constant counselling, encouragement and motivation. A woman who was finding it difficult even to look straight into other’s eyes had now found a ray of hope. The faculty at iLEAD’s Gurgaon centre encouraged her towards a new life and see the future ahead in new light which reflects the basic philosophy of iLEAD – bringing disadvantaged youth into the mainstream through skill enhancement and personality development. The efforts paid off as Santosh gradually and steadily began taking life more positively, and went on to take a course on sales and marketing. By the end of the course, Santosh was a transformed person, brimming with confidence and ready to take on life.16 Heroes of Today iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  23. 23. Looking back with satisfaction at the progress made by Santosh following theiLEAD training, a faculty member says: “We can see a changed, enthusiasticand confident woman who takes pride in her achievements.” The fact that shenow works as a hospital receptionist which requires constant interaction withpeople speaks volumes of the efforts put in by the iLEAD team in transforming iLEAD has givena person who was not willing to face anyone. me a new hope. I have startedSays Santosh herself of her transformation: “I was feeling hopeless and depressed believing intowards my life before joining iLEAD. Life was like a dark well to me.” Not only is myself and Ishe determined to lead a normal life by herself now but is also keen on helping am confidenther parents out, both financially and emotionally, now that she has a job which that I can lead afetches her Rs 6000 every month. dignified life.Santosh sums up her experience saying “iLEAD has given me a new hope. I havestarted believing in myself and I am confident that I can lead a dignified life.”Santosh’s parents, likening iLEAD to a doctor who gives an ailing child a newlease of life, are pleased to see the twinkle of confidence return to her eyes. Heroes of Today 17 iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  24. 24. Finding the path Sultan Shaikh’s case is another instance of how intervention and motivation can bring out the best in a person. Not yet out of his teens, this Pune lad was forced to give up his studies after completing 12th. Hailing from a family of four, Sultan Shaikh, a resident of Shastri Nagar slum in Yerwada would have meandered through life without any purpose. Thanks to the Community Mobilisation Drive undertaken by iLEAD, the 19-year-old son of a security guard found a path which would lead him in the right direction. On realising the potential of iLEAD Sultan Shaikh enrolled for Sales and Marketing course as he believed having an aptitude for the field. He approached the iLEAD centre along with 30 other people where he was appraised about the objectives before taking an aptitude test. From there on, there was no looking back. The faculty at iLEAD helped him choose the right career path. The training, he realised, was far different from that offered in other institutes, with extensive emphasis on practical and real time situations besides having access to systems which were scarce in other institutes. On completion of his course, iLEAD supported in placing him as a trainee in a shopping mall with a monthly salary of Rs 5500. He made rapid progress and from a sales executive, today he is the Team Leader with a reputed footwear company called Inc.5, drawing a handsome salary of Rs 9500 per month. He is excited about working for a company which is considered as one of the best in the industry. During a meeting with the faculty in post placement support visit, Sultan Shaikh expressed his gratitude to iLEAD for the attention given besides the space to explore and learn. He particularly stressed on the attention given towards improving communication skills, an area vital in his field. His language skills, which was a handicap, improved with newspaper reading sessions, story reading18 Heroes of Today iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  25. 25. and listening to audio tapes provided by the centre. Armed with improvedcommunication skills, Sultan Shaikh goes about his sales and marketing jobwith enhanced confidence. He is also confident that though he does not possesseducational qualifications, the training at iLEAD would go a long way in his careermarch.Sultan Shaikh is candid enough to admit that his family never thought that hewould make it on his own, but today they are a happy lot particularly his fatherwho met with an accident recently forcing him to quit his job that used to fetchRs 6000 per month. Today the family dependent is on Sultan Shaikh who isbrimming with confidence of facing any challenge. His family too encourageshim to scale higher peaks in his career.Having benefitted from iLEAD, Sultan Shaikh is keen on motivating others fromhis community to join the centre for their own good. He is also confident that though he does not possess educational qualifications, the training at iLEAD would go a long way in his career march. Heroes of Today 19 iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  26. 26. Nothing is impossible There are times when teachers learn from the student as much as the student learns from teachers. This was what the iLEAD team at Bhopal experienced when Vandana Bhargurya enrolled herself for the Customer Relations Retailing course at the centre and went on to storm the male-dominated area of welding. Hailing from an impoverished Scheduled Caste family of five in Eatkhedi village in Madhya Pradesh, Vandana could not afford the luxury of education since she felt the need to contribute to the meagre family income of Rs. 2900 per month earned by I thought I will her father as a daily wage labourer. It often pained her to see the family go without learn some the daily bread, but was helpless without any qualification for a job.skills but I never believed It was during this phase of despair she came to know of iLEAD and the opportunities that the day it held for her. Determined to overcome all odds, Vandana, after undergoing would come training at iLEAD, was selected in by Bend Joints Pvt Ltd, an ISO 9001 2000 certified when I would company at Govindpura Industrial Area in Bhopal in March 2008. She underwent be in a position in-house training and subsequently joined as a welder with an initial monthly to support my salary of Rs 2700. The management took note of her performance and raised her family. salary to Rs 5500 with other social security benefits. Unmindful of the fact that the work exposed her to great risks, Vandana took it up head on and proved a point that given grit and determination, and with a little help from organisations like iLEAD, women too can take up any kind of work. She not only set an example for fellow students at iLEAD but also her community by earning the respect of her employers and co-workers with her efficiency and determination to succeed at work. She also made it a point to take her family members and neighbours to her workplace to give them a taste of the work culture and environment. Vandana’s level of confidence was evident when she had the opportunity to share the iLEAD experience at a presentation and interaction meeting organised by CII on Affirmative Action Initiative in July, 2008 at Indore. She spoke eloquently20 Heroes of Today iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  27. 27. on behalf of fellow students during an interaction with Dr J J Irani, Chairman, CIIApex Council on Affirmative Action & Director, Tata Sons Ltd. Her presentationon how iLEAD had changed the course of her life was heard by the audience withrapt attention. Her assertion that being a woman was not a handicap and given alittle encouragement and motivation, could achieve anything was received well.Encouraged by Vandana’s success, three other girls from her community took upthe course and have also found employment in Bend Joints Pvt Ltd, and manymore have shown eagerness to follow suit. As for Vandana herself, she plansto stick to the organisation she works for, as the management has been veryhelpful and encouraging.The iLEAD team in Bhopal has this to say about Vandana: “She set an examplefor us too by taking up a career in a male-dominated field and proving thatwith grit and determination, women too can match men in any field.”Narendra Singh, in-charge of the workshop at Bend Joints Pvt Ltd,who played a crucial role in mentoring Vandana says: “During theinitial stage of training, Vandana was a scared and shy person whowas not sure of handling the job. But, her determination andcommitment was such that she picked up the skills and is nowon par with any experienced person at the unit. Her confidencenow is really amazing.”Vandana is a changed person now but before she joined iLEADit was all different. “I thought I will learn some skills but I neverbelieved that the day would come when I would be in a position tosupport my family,” says the beaming welder. Heroes of Today 21 iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  28. 28. Bringing out the best How personality development through intervention and motivation can help a person overcome all odds in life is best described in the success story of A Velmurgan, son of a cobbler in Madurai. The 20-year-old Velmurgan was at crossroads after completing his school final when his father could not work due to ill health. Velmurgan took up a job as a tailor for a readymade garments shop at a salary of Rs 1500 per month to support his impoverished family comprising his mother – a housewife, and a younger sister. He came to know of iLEAD during one of the Community Mobilisation Drive undertaken by the Madurai centre, and enrolled himself for the wireman’s course in 2007. The iLEAD experience brought out the best in Velmurgan, who emerged out of his low self-esteem image to that of a confident young man. Placed as an electrician trainee with CCCL (Consolidated Construction Consortium Limited), a reputed construction company in Chennai, Velmurgan worked with dedication and was further helped by iLEAD in personality development during post-placement visits. He is now a senior electrician drawing a salary of Rs 6000 per month with free accommodation to boot! Expressing gratitude to iLEAD for helping him stand on his own feet, Velmurgan, sharing his experience with students at alumni meet recently, said: “I am a living testimony of the effectiveness of the iLEAD training programme which not only helped me with skills development but also transformed me as a person through motivation. I now aspire to do better in life and will also help other marginalised youth by encouraging them to join the iLEAD family.” He recalled how he used to be an introvert with low self-esteem who could not maintain eye contact with anybody when conversing. That he did not possess adequate qualifications coupled with the fact that he hailed from an economically- backward family only made matters worse for him as he constantly feared that22 Heroes of Today iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  29. 29. he was looked down upon by others. But all this changed when he joined iLEADwhere the faculty identified the positive aspects in him besides encouraging himtowards effective combined use of both body language and facial expressions.“I started looking at life positively following the motivation and after derivinginspiration from success stories which I read. I am now confident enough torecognise my abilities and even address conflicts within the team in a positiveand open manner,” says the youngster.Velmurgan was particularly happy with the friendly teaching methodology I started lookingadopted at iLEAD and the exposure he got from the additional training given by at life positivelyexperts during guest and industrial visits which immensely helped in developing following theand sharpening skills of social interaction. motivation and after derivingThe stint at iLEAD helped Velmurgan in several ways – it changed his outlook inspirationtowards life and developed him as a confident person, enabled him to clear family from successloans, support his parents and his sister’s higher studies who is undergoing stories whicha course on nursing. Further, he has also been able to save for his sister’s I read.marriage. Says the proud sister: “I was very keen on becoming a nurse but feltthe dream would never come true because of dire financial straits my family wasin. My brother, however, always encourages me to continue with my studies andin fact, it was he who brought out the passion in me to pursue nursing. Nowthat he is helping me financially, I am confident of becoming a nurse and live mydream of serving people.” The brother-sister duo hope to help as many peopleas they can to achieve their dreams. Velmurgan’s mother is obviously proud of her son’s achievement in life since he is taking care of the entire family. Heroes of Today 23 iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  30. 30. Living the dream There are some who dream big but do little to achieve their goals and then there are those who strive hard to live their dream. Durga Shankar Sharma, son of a class IV government employee in Rajasthan, belongs to the latter category. Sharma’s may not be exactly a ‘rags-to-riches’ saga but it certainly qualifies as a major success story put on course through grit and determination with a little help from iLEAD. Before my iLEAD The 24-year-old Sharma hails from Singhpur village in Chittorgarh districtexperience, I was of Rajasthan. His father’s salary of Rs 4000 was hardly enough to meet the known as a dull requirements and needs of the family of six, including two sisters and a person in my grandmother. After completing graduation, Sharma felt the need to contribute to village and the family kitty and took up a job as a Data Entry Operator with Punjab National people believed Bank at a salary of Rs 3000 per month. Though this was helping the family, that I would not Sharma was not content with what he was doing or earning, and was always succeed in life. looking for better opportunities to improve and grow. He had this constant urge But I had to do better and scale greater heights in life so that he could fulfill the needs of this passion to his family. The quest for something better finally led him to iLEAD. Impressed bygrow and achieve iLEAD’s concept and objectives shared during a Community Mobilisation Drive, something big, Sharma realised it was a great opportunity to enhance his skills and didn’t let the and see where I opportunity pass by when he realised it came without any additional burden on am today the family. Opting for the Desktop Publishing course, Sharma showed keen interest from the very first day of training. Punctual in attendance and serious about the course, he learned the basics of computer and to work on Excel, Word, Power Point and Corel Draw. Sharma’s dedication and commitment paid off since he not only sharpened his knowledge skills but also benefitted in terms of personality development. He was a transformed man, a far cry from the villager and well on his way to take on the urban world. iLEAD’s training helped him emerge as a well-groomed manager, one who knew the nuances of speech and the dress 24 Heroes of Today iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  31. 31. codes he would have to follow, not to speak of the bursting confidence.After undergoing training, Sharma with the help of iLEAD faculty, landed in a jobwith Fullerton India in Jaipur, earning Rs 10,000 per month in salary and perks - aquantum jump from the meagre Rs 3000 he was earning before joining iLEAD.His consistent quest for improvement led him to ICICI Prudential, a year-and-half after he joined Fullerton India. Now a Unit Manager with a smart packageof Rs 1.75 lakh per annum, Sharma can look back with pride at his short trackrecord, and look forward to scaling greater heights.A grateful Sharma attributes his success to iLEAD which gave him the breakand skills to march forward. He continues to be a part of the iLEAD family andregularly visits the centre, helps find placements for its trainees and studentsand more importantly, motivates other youngsters from his village to looktowards iLEAD for betterment!“Before my iLEAD experience, I was known as a dull person in my village andpeople believed that I would not succeed in life. But I had this passion to growand achieve something big, and see where I am today. I am heading a team of 20persons in my organisation, and where I was earning a meagre amount of Rs 25a day, I am now making a whopping Rs 800 per day. iLEAD has brought about adrastic change in my life,” says a beaming Sharma.Sharma’s parents are obviously delighted by the career advancement theirson has achieved in such a short time. The proud couple believe that it wasiLEAD which put their son on the right path and equipped him with skills andconfidence to achieve success in life. They also acknowledge his commitmentand willingness to learn and improve, to achieve whatever goals he had set for inhis life and in the process, set example for others. Indeed, Sharma is a role modelfor many youth who dream of making it big in life! Heroes of Today 25 iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  32. 32. Learning of a life time When a person feels down and out, it is but natural for one to turn to a friend or kin. In the case of Rekha Garg, hailing from Manpura village in Chittorgarh, iLEAD played the role of a friend, philosopher and guide. Not only did the Chittorgarh centre help her with skills enhancement and personality development, the team also stood behind her at her worst times when her husband met with an accident and was removed from his job. Rekha is a transformed person now, computer literate, confident and more importantly, empowered. Married to a zinc plant worker, Rekha, who has studied up to class 10, was She has not only finding the going tough since the family income of Rs 6000 was just not enough done well for to make both ends meet. Her job as a teacher was not fetching enough and she herself but has had no hopes of a raise since she lacked qualification. She was on the lookout also turned into for an institution or organisation which would help her come out of the difficult a role model for situation. several otherwomen, including It was during this time that she came to know of iLEAD and its programmes when her own sister the centre conducted a Community Mobilisation Drive. The faculty explained to and a physically her about iLEAD’s objectives and the various courses it offered. Motivated bychallenged cousin the discussion and the fact that it would only help her lead a better life, Rekha who joined iLEAD joined the iLEAD family and enrolled herself for the Desk Top Publishing course. The faculty at the centre removed all her apprehensions about lack of adequate qualification being a barrier to learning. Putting her heart and soul into the course, Rekha, who knew nothing about computers, stood out during the training and began working on Word, Excel, Power Point and Corel Draw confidently. Simultaneously, the team also worked on her personality development and she emerged as a confident person. Needless to say, her husband is proud of her achievement and turning computer literate. She has not only done well for herself but has also turned into a role model for several other women, including her own sister and a physically challenged cousin who joined iLEAD. The family’s 26 Heroes of Today iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  33. 33. total earnings have mounted to a healthy Rs 12,000 per month after Rekha gotan increment following her qualification from iLEAD.The family and community are particularly grateful for the way the iLEAD teamstood behind her when her husband met with an accident in the workplaceleading to hospitalisation. Not only did the employer throw him out but alsorefused to pay any compensation. Rekha’s pathetic plight came to the noticeof the iLEAD faculty who immediately encouraged and motivated her to fightfor her husband’s right to claim compensation from the company. With iLEAD’ssupport and guidance, Rekha went on to win the case, forcing the company tofoot her husband’s medical bill and reinstate him in his job. The company alsoapologised for their earlier behaviour.Says Rekha: “I am grateful to my faculty who not only guided me when I wasin need but also arranged extra classes for me. They also helped me in findingways to get compensation from my husband’s company when he met with anaccident while working.”“After my training, I had the option of joining some office or computer institutebut I preferred teaching computer in a school for underprivileged students andhelp them overcome inhibitions. And now they have options to choose from infuture.”Rekha believes that whatever she learnt at iLEAD was the learning of her life,and actively spread awareness on the importance of education and individualrights. Heroes of Today 27 iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  34. 34. The grit to change ones’ destiny Life can be like a rusty and rundown automobile which can be brought back to shape with hard work and determination to give it a new look. This was precisely and quite literally the experience of Birendra Kisku, a 25-year-old Scheduled Tribe youth hailing from Godda village in Chhattisgarh after he joined iLEAD, which helped him remodel his life. Born into a modest agricultural family cultivating paddy and wheat on their own land, Kisku studied upto graduation in Ranchi but due to personal problems, he was frustrated without any hope of being successful in life. But as the adage goes, “destiny follows you,” fate had a ‘game-plan’ which would change the course of his life – from that of a desolate youth to a confident person who would take on the role of teaching others the ways of living. With nothing to do, Kisku went out to play a game of football at Morabadi ground when he saw a crowd gathered there. It was a Community Mobilisation Drive taken up by iLEAD, and the team was explaining to the youngsters the objectives of the organisation and the courses it offered. Motivated by the talk, Kisku, who was then pursuing graduation, decided to use his spare time constructively and joined the Automobile Maintenance course, and thus started his first step towards making progress in his life. In the course of the training, he realised that the course was not merely a package aimed at enhancing skills but also involved personality development and confidence-building. He soon made a new circle of friends and the constant interaction with them and guidance from the faculty helped him overcome a handicap which he felt he would never be able to – conversing in English confidently even though he was a graduate.28 Heroes of Today iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  35. 35. On completion of the course, Kisku joined Shyama Automobiles, but the low salarythere made him look for greener pastures. His quest to do something on hisown led him to open a garage in partnership with some friends. Besides, he alsoworked as a part-time driver. But with such a promising outlook and after thetransformation he had undergone at iLEAD, it was not long before he was askedby the organisation to join the faculty at Saraikela centre, given his expertise inthe field, at a healthy salary of Rs 7500. Willingly taking up the offer, Kisku isgrateful to iLEAD for recognising and tapping his hidden talent, particularly since Kisku is gratefulhe never dreamt that he would be capable of teaching. His learning continued to iLEAD foreven as he taught others the art of automobile maintenance because the queries recognising andthrown up by his students often caught him off guard, forcing him to acquiring tapping his hiddenmore and more knowledge on the machines. talent, particularly since he neverThe turning point in his career which made him a better professional and person dreamt that hewas when he and his students bought a rundown motorbike for Rs 1500. After would be capableputting in a lot of hard work, the team remodelled the bike, gave it a new look and of teachingmade it roadworthy which caught the eye of a customer who willingly paid Rs8000! That was a great lesson for Kisku whose confidence levels reached newheights. “Hard work pays and this is the only mantra for life,” says the beamingyouth who had once lost all hopes of doing something in life. Stating that thetransformation in his life was only because of iLEAD’s intervention, he recalls theoft-repeated words of the faculty: “Everyone can give you advice but at the endof the day, it has to be the individual who has to work on it.”With humility and politeness as virtues, Kisku has remodelled his life to turnsuccessful just as he and his students put an out-of-shape vehicle on the road.He is a role model for other students and his family, who are now happy thathe helps them out financially. He is also helping both his elder brother and hisnephew to pursue their respective education. Heroes of Today 29 iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  36. 36. About Aide et Action Aide et Action (AeA) is an international development organisation working for the cause of education since 1981 with its headquarters in Geneva. Working on the theme “World where dignity is ensured for all men, women and children through education – lever for human development,” the organisation operates in 26 countries including Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Togo, Benin, Guinea, Senegal, Tanzania, Madagascar, Morocco, Niger, Malawi, Rwanda, Haiti, Dominican Republic, France, Switzerland, Sri Lanka, Nepal and India besides having presence in the US, Canada and China. In India, AeA operates through its regional offices located at Chennai, Hyderabad, Bhopal, Delhi, Ranchi, Guwahati and Jaipur. In India, AeA started its interventions in 1981 to help children from marginalised communities to gain improved access to education, and its operations here are influenced by the country’s strategy and focus on thematic areas that include early childcare and education, quality education, livelihood education, inclusive education, women’s empowerment and education, HIV/AIDS, migration and disaster response, mitigation and preparedness. These thematic areas represent the core of AeA’s work in the region and the activities are carried out through direct implementation of projects and partnership projects. Partnerships with governments and corporate, providing technical inputs to stakeholders and capacity-building events, research and advocacy are some of the major modes of intervention carried out within the thematic areas across the country. Besides iLEAD, which is aimed at promoting market-oriented employability and entrepreneurship training for youth from the marginalised sections, the other unique projects initiated by AeA in India include Back 2 Basics (B2B), Prajayatna (People for Education Movement), EduAction wing, Liberate School, Tsunami Rehabilitation Project and HIV-Link Worker Scheme. B2B is an initiative in response to the increasing concern among policy-makers, educationists and common people on the declining quality of learning in schools. B2B is an accelerated learning and quality enhancement programme aimed at achieving acceptable competency levels among children of primary schools, and it currently reaches out to 2100 schools covering nearly 2 lakh children in primary grades across the country.30 Heroes of Today iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  37. 37. Prajayatna focuses on enhancing community participation and ensuringaccountability of schools to the community. The project, implemented by partnerNGO, MAYA, in Anantapur and Mahabubnagar districts of Andhra Pradesh andBellary and Gulbarga district of Karnataka, aims at bridging the gap betweenschools, communities, academicians and political bodies to ensure qualityeducation in schools.EduAction Institute is based in Hyderabad and is a resource centre focusing oncapacity-building, research and advocacy in the field of development. It supportsNGOs, INGOs, large donor-supported projects and government in capacity-buildingof field functionaries and other professionals, besides conducting high qualityresearch and addressing issues of education through evidence-based advocacy.Liberate School is an action research project started with the objective ofenabling communities and children in particular to access any knowledgerelevant to their lives and environment through non-school based interactionsand opportunities.The Tsunami Rehabilitation Project, implemented in 80 villages in Cuddalore andNagapattinam districts of Tamil Nadu and 25 villages in Sri Lanka in collaborationwith partner NGOs and local communities focuses on restoration of agriculturalland, promotion of sustainable agricultural practices, capacity-building ondisaster preparedness, emergence of schools as eco-centres and infrastructuredevelopment for disaster mitigation.AeA has implemented the HIV-Link Worker Scheme in 900 villages of ninedistricts in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in association with UNDP and NACO. Theproject is aimed at developing a team of link workers to address populationswith high risk behaviours (including High Risk Groups and Bridge Populations) onthe premise that there are significant numbers in rural areas. Heroes of Today 31 iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth
  38. 38. Aide et Action (South Asia) 16/20, Gilchrist Avenue, Harrington Road, Chetpet, Chennai -31 Ph.: 044 28365516,17,18,19 Email: communication@aea-southasia.org www.aea-southasia.org2 Heroes of Today iLEAD programme taps the latent potential of India’s marginalised youth