On 11th September, on occasion of Revolutionary Umaji Naik’s Jayanti a few days ago (on 7th September) we were privileged to interact for a full day’s training with over 60 students and their parents who are Vaghya, Murali, Gondhali, Jogti (NT-DNT religious performer communities) who came from different parts of Kalyan, Dombivali, Ulhasnagar, Vitthalwadi and other areas of Thane District. This was a big achievement where children of parents who perform at religious and social functions – who face an added layer of discrimination based on the stigma attached to their occupation, along with their NT-DNT identity – came for an intellectual knowledge-building session.

This was based on our unique module of Career Leadership which looks at career as an intrinsic part of one’s mental health, intellectual development, and sense of identity, and not only as a technical aspect. The aspirations, goals, doubts, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and experiences shared by the youth was their first ever sharing in the context of concretely planning for their careers. A parent shared, “Our children have many aspirations, but no one to realistically tell them that they can fulfill them, and how they can do so. We keep going into this work for generation after generation, which we don’t want our children to get into. Not because this is bad work, we know it is our profession and how skilled it is, but people look at us with contempt as ‘dancers’. This kind of guidance and more importantly this kind of live example of leaders from their own communities having broken the cycle, is most invaluable.”

At the end, some educational materials were also distributed as a form of support towards their educational efforts.

We thank community leaders Sita Jagtap, Chhagan Shinde, Ramesh Jadhav etc. who helped in mobilizing and bringing together these youth and their parents.