The best way to please me is to see me in all beings and serve them just as you would like to serve me. —Sri Sathya Sai Baba, 22 Sept 1968

Introduction

Sustainable and permanent development is possible if women are empowered and given the finanacial ability to plan for their families and support their children through better education and better living conditions. Due to lack of proper education at a younger age, many women find it difficult to maintain their family on the income of husband alone. This is most prevalent in families who come from a poor economic background and subsist hand-to-mouth on low incomes.

Vocational Training Center

Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation (SSSO), Chennai, has taken up a massive service project in Tamil Nadu state where women are trained in different trades to enable them to start their own business or take up a suitable job related to the training they have undergone. This vocational training is being done by ladies, for ladies.

Enriching lives by enhancing skills for empowerment

The Vocational Training Centre (VTC) started with three sections and as of early 2013 has expanded to include ten departments for the ladies:

Tailoring: This section has seen a phenomenal growth  and provided livelihood for both younger and older ladies. There is no education or age restriction for enrollment, and today there are nearly 800 students who have learned tailoring.

Embroidery and handicrafts: Handicrafts include mats made from sari waste, decorative pouches, woolen mufflers, small table mats, letter holders and painting on terracotta items. Training on this economically viable front is open to all, and proceeds from our outlets benefit our students.

Candle making: The products include special decorative and floating candles. Initial training in this line was given by an adept in this field. Trained students supply candles to retail outlets using moulds provided by the centre.

Screen printing: Started in 2001, training is given in basic designing in screen-printing work. Items printed here include visiting cards, letter pads, slip-pads, covers (envelopes), and identification cards. Candidates are encouraged to undertake orders for printing on textiles, such as the SSSO emblem.

Offset printing: A baby offset machine installed here is utilized for printing booklets published by Sri Sathya Sai Books & Publications, bill books, certificates, agarbathi (scented sticks used for prayers), cartons, pamphlets etc. Training is also given to older and younger women in book binding and cutting/trimming.

Secretarial course: Training has been given for secretarial exams conducted by the Department of Technical Education, Tamil Nadu government, covering the following skills:

        1. Typing

        2. Accountancy

        3. Tallying (two-month abridged course)

        4. Office automation (computers)

        5. Spoken English

Placement in jobs

The Vocational Training Centre helps candidates to obtain employment in various industries, offices, firms and so on. Some ladies go on to start their own businesses.

Direct effects on individual lives

Mrs. Savitha: A trainee at Nungabakkam started the venture “Sai Needle Art" with Mrs. Malthi of Sarada Tailors, who said of the VTC, “Vocational Training Centre has shown the way for self-employment. The students trained here are sincere and hard working. May their tribe increase in number.”

Mrs. Susheela: A totally uneducated homemaker joined the tailoring course. Today she earns Rs.1,000 (US $20) a week and commands respect in her family circles.

Mrs. Karpagam: “I did my secretarial course and am currently employed in Madhuram Narayanan Centre (a special school). I am earning Rs. 5,500 (US $100) per month. When I was in a dilemma after completing my +2, our beloved God showed the way for a better living. All the teachers here train us with a sense of dedication and commitment.”

Mrs. Geetha: Having worked as a helper for only 13 days after completing the beautician course, today she owns her own beauty parlour. She has now taken on an employee, Ponnammal, who was also trained at our centre. “I am very happy with the training received here. Thanks to our beloved Sri Sathya Sai Baba.”

Mrs. Revathi: Students trained here have formed a commercial group,“Brides and Beauty Spot.” Bridal make-up is their forte.      

Mrs. Mohana: “I did my secretarial course in 2009, along with tailoring. I am grateful to this centre of Sri Sathya Sai Baba for the excellent training given here. Today I work as a data entry operator in Laser Words, earning Rs. 5,000 (US $100) per month.”

Mrs Gandhimathi: An unemployed graduate who passed accountancy in class I, she was immediately placed and is an accountant in Sterling Salts & Chemicals earning Rs. 5,000 (US $100) per month. “The transformation I have undergone here personally and otherwise is dramatic. My husband is now more supportive in my career too. Million salutations to Sri Sathya Sai Baba.”

Mrs. Shanmugapriya: “I owe my present position to the training centre. I completed my secretarial course in 2006. I worked for Sony Diagnostic Centre and am currently pursuing my MBA in Madras University.”

Mrs. Manimala: She works in Srinivasa Traders as DEO and earns Rs. 5,000 (US $90) per month. “VTC is my gateway to a meaningful life. I have gained self-confidence and garnered respect by financially supporting the family. My nephew is a Balvikas student here. I seek Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s grace now and always.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cultural involvement and service work

Ladies Day and other functions are observed, in keeping with Indian tradition. To inculcate the principle of expansion of love, students at VTC assist in Narayana Seva (serving food) for the adopted families in Bharathi Nagar. Our students also volunteer as scribes for the visually challenged and read for  them at PSBB School.

Every alternate month, VTC students take up cleaning at Sundaram Temple (Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s ashram in Chennai). They participate in service activities every first Thursday at Guindy Sathya Sai Temple.

Balvikas classes are held for the children of the ladies and others in the neighbourhood.Two of the Balvikas students have completed Group III. One student also underwent training as a Balvikas guru (teacher) and another joined the service corps taking rotations serving at Prasanthi Nilayam. Over time, the Balvikas programme has grown to include 22 children, and study circles are held for students every week to imbibe the values enunciated by Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Visual aids including videos on Swami’s life are shown, and quiz programmes are conducted to kindle students’ interest in the study circles. Interactive and guided meditation sessions have proven to be beneficial.

Pilgrimage to Puttaparthi 

Special mention must be made of a piligrimage to Puttaparthi the third week of September 2011. A group nearly 100-strong including the staff of Vocational Training Centre, students, Balvikas children and their relatives and friends were taken to Parthi and were blessed to be called to pay obeisance to the Mahasamadhi of Sathya Sai Baba.

The 10-year milestone (2001–2011) of the VTC, representing a decade of wonderful social work empowering many ladies, was celebrated with music and dance. During the period, many dignitaries of the SSSO visited our centre and were appreciative of the activities espousing a noble cause as enunciated by God.

The training imparted at VTC strive to be based on the essence of Educare* and paves the way for the total transformation of everyone involved, through right living and good conduct.

Our prayer: We humbly prostrate before Thee, O Almighty, our beloved Companion, Guide and Guardian. Bless all our endeavours, now and always.

These are my words to you, my devotees! Your mission has begun. Each one of you has a unique and valuable part to play in this lifetime. Only those whom I have called can serve me. . . . To successfully perform your part, always remain centred upon God. —Sri Sathya Sai Baba (Prema Dhara 2, 1st Edition, p. 140)

Additional Info

Project Coordinator: Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation-Tamil Nadu 

Contact Person:

1)    Sri G Varadhan, State President, Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation-Tamil Nadu State, mail ID: tnspvaradhang@gmail.com

2)    Sri K R Suresh, State Vice-President, Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation,-Tamil Nadu State. Mail ID: tnvpsuresh@gmail.com

Keywords

Vocational Training, Vocational Training Centre (VTC), Empowering of women, Tailoring, handicrafts, Chennai, Saineeda, candle-making, screen printing, offset printing, secretarial training, Bal Vikas (SSE) classes, SSSO Tamil Nadu, Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation-Tamil Nadu, Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation-Chennai, SSSO Chennai

Project Details

Project start: 01/01/00

Project completion:

Stage of development:

Zone name: India

Lat/Longitude: 13° 3' N 80° 14' E

Affiliation: Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation, Tamil Nadu

Service category: Tutoring

Author: VV

Project leader: G Varadhan