support our work:meet the team!
Will you be visiting India as an English speaker? Are you going to the International Order Convention at Bodh Gaya, 4th-11th February 2018?
Would you like to do something really creative and rewarding, to help the young Dalit Buddhists of India? Then you might be interested in this from Shakyajata at Young Indian Futures.
What is Young Indian Futures?
No, it’s nothing to do with the Stock Exchange! It’s a small Triratna project, funded entirely by voluntary efforts, based at Aryaloka Computer Institute, Nagpur, India.
What is the work?
Every winter for the last 8 years, 10 young women and 10 young men from Dalit families, have been recruited to spend 6 months in purpose-built community accommodation, and to learn a wide range of computer skills, plus basic accounting, Photoshop, Corel Draw, basic computer repairs, and English. They also receive Dhamma teaching, attend confidence-building workshops, and learn about the life and ideals of their great hero and role model, Dr B. R. Ambedkar.
Who are the beneficiaries?
The young people come from ‘low-caste’ backgrounds, and they and their families endure poverty, humiliation, deprivation and discrimination. There are great gaps in their education, with little support for post-school training. Girls especially, may never have left their village before, and a life of drudgery or heavy labour with minimal pay, is all that both sexes have to look forward to - hence the name of the project! We recruit through field workers and Ambedkarite contacts in the particularly undeveloped areas of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, and Uttar Pradesh.
What are the benefits?
We aim to give these talented young people the best chance possible, of obtaining decent jobs with a prospect of promotion, good salaries, independence and the potential to lift themselves and their families out of the poverty trap. A sense of self-worth, reclaiming their history, and supporting each other, are all central to their development. They also have a chance to connect if they wish, to the Triratna organisations in India, including Right Livelihood, and the Triratna Sangha. The last intake of students, had the highest rate of employment success ever, the women of 90%, the men of approximately 70%. But for all of them, blossoming confidence and dignity are radiantly visible. Their lives have been radically changed.
What is the future of Y.I.F.?
Aryaketu, the director of Aryaloka Computer Education (ACE) has many years of successful experience of setting-up computer training centres from scratch, and is keen to use the skills of YIF trainees to replicate the success of the Nagpur project in other cities, among Dalit communities. A very effective Centre is now operating in Raipur, capital city of Chhattisgarh, giving opportunities to hundreds of young people from many backgrounds, including street sleepers. Sanjaya and Satish, the directors and teachers, can use the flexibility their Right Livelihood role gives them, to pursue their ambition of Triratna Ordination. Other Centres are under research in Delhi, Patna (Bihar), and Orissa.
Can you help?
If you can go to Nagpur, for some time, however long or short, and spend some time with these young people, it is a huge boost to their skills and self-esteem. The month of January ‘17, is a particularly good time - Nagpur is very hot in mid-February - and simple accommodation can be provided. If you are a member of the Order visiting India for the 50th anniversary celebrations either before or after the Order Convention would be great.
Volunteers are needed, to teach English and give conversation practice, and to offer training around self-presentation and diversity/equality. There are also opportunities for Triratna Order Members to offer Dharma teaching. The key thing is simply befriending these aspiring young Buddhists, sporting them as they fulfill the vision of Dr Ambedkar to look beyond the ‘hell of caste’ in which so many young women and men find themselves by accident of birth.
Assisting the growth and development of these keen, talented, delightful young people is deeply rewarding, and makes a real difference in the world - as well as forging friendships for life.