With no relevant knowledge and job skills, Mantasha Shaikh felt lost and demotivated. Her road to a better life seemed to have reached a dead-end. This is the story of how she built her resilience and overcame numerous obstacles despite the odds…
Mantasha grew up in a small hut in Vikhroli, a suburb of Mumbai, where she lives with her parents and two younger siblings. Her father, who sold toys outside a railway station, was the family’s only earning member. “I always dreamed of securing a better future for myself and my family. But even though I had completed my 12th grade, I had no idea how to get a formal job,” said Mantasha.
Her lack of knowledge and skills was just the beginning of her challenges. Hailing from a marginalised community where girls face numerous restrictions, Mantasha’s parents planned to get her married as soon as she turned 18. While she was devastated, she also felt a renewed determination to find a job, she said “I knew I needed to stand on my own feet if I wanted to change their minds. I needed to be able to support my family financially.”
She came across Magic Bus during a mobilisation drive in her neighbourhood. “When the team explained to me the need for certain job skills and how they help youth secure and retain employment, I was very excited by the possibilities. But I knew it would be a big challenge to convince my parents to allow me to join the programme,” said Mantasha.
Through several counselling sessions with her parents, our team explained the benefits of the programme and persuaded them to enrol her. “Even after my parents gave me permission, there were several more obstacles in my way as I had no money or means to travel,” said Mantasha. With her goal in mind, she braved the heat and walked more than five kilometres from her home to the livelihood centre each day. She said, “I knew the training would give me the skills and confidence to succeed so even though the journey was hard, I knew I could not give up. Initially, I lacked confidence. I had to develop a lot of basic skills in myself first.” Though she was quiet and reserved initially, the transformation in Mantasha was evident as she slowly began to be more open and participate in the sessions with increasing confidence.
Over the course of 45 days, Mantasha learned life skills like communication, problem-solving and teamwork, along with essential employability skills like Spoken English, Digital Literacy and Financial Literacy. Our trainers also prepared her for job interviews through mock-interview sessions. “Learning computer skills was the biggest challenge. When I first joined the programme, I had zero knowledge of computers and had to learn everything from scratch. But I diligently practised my skills every day and steadily I improved,” she said.
After completing the training, Magic Bus connected her to several job interviews and Mantasha was soon selected at Beyond Enough. Beaming with happiness she said, “My family is so proud of me as I am the first and only female earning in my family. I can confidently converse with my colleagues and customers in English, which I thought I would never be able to do. I feel empowered and independent. Without this programme, I would have never been able to achieve my dreams of supporting my family financially and standing on my own feet.” Full of hope and aspiration, Mantasha said, “My journey was not easy, but I never gave up. It taught me that determination and hard work can help us overcome any obstacle. I hope my story inspires other young girls like me to never give up on their dreams.”Back