Poverty, bacchus and migration cycles – Our effort to stop urban migration and connect the right talent to the right jobs

We, at Head Held High (HHH), believe that in a world of abundance, poverty has no place. It is a lovely thought. I try to experience this in each of my visits to a HHH centre.

I was in Gulbarga district of North Karnataka on April 19th-20th last week. Summer has just set in. In the scorching summer heat of 44 to 45 deg Celsius, Gulbarga is definitely burning. Nature doesn’t spare anyone- be it rich or poor. For poor, it is worse due to lack of basic amenities and right access to them. They are exposed to the nature’s wrath, apathy and the annual urban migration cycles. Several villages in north Karnataka belt usually migrate to big cities like Mumbai and Bangalore. Trains are full of villagers leaving enmass to seek work in metros. With such migration, villages are left empty and this is a sad plight.

I saw hundreds of displaced villagers operating as manual laborers in Gulbarga city. They huddle around near railway stations and bus stands. Labor contractors come on small mopeds and there is a rush to meet him. Daily wages, work, terms are negotiated in a prolonged shouting match. Some of the laborers were also seen boozing at 7:30AM, at a nearby friendly neighborhood shop. It’s shocking to see alcohol shops opens at such early hours of the day. The poor needs the ‘Bacchus’ to overcome hunger, boredom and slip into strenuous work after 10AM. With increase in heat intensity as the day passes by, the 90ml pegs will make it worse.

Poverty cycle is created, sustained by the establishment in such a vicious manner that there is no work at village and hence villagers have to move out. Spend more, lose health. Double whammy!

Our trainers continue to battle it out in smaller non-descript villages – Kallur, Wadi, and Ravoor – to make an impact on the young minds. We want to stop the urban migration and connect the right talents to right jobs. We started operating a centre at Wadi junction. This is a very old railway point where Mumbai-Madras and Hyderabad-Mumbai lines intersect. Plenty of trains with lakhs of passengers pass through this junction. Some of our trainees sell tea in the evening at the station. During daytime, they are in the HHH training class, supported by ACC Cements CSR centre. Some of them take trains /buses to reach this CSR centre. They did not get school education and were left out. They want to end this cycle and eke out a proper living with our help.

We tried an activity at many of these centers using good old comics. School drop-outs have never experienced the fun of reading a comic. We used Tinkle/Magicpot/others to read, learn new words and assimilate morals. Students huddle in groups, read and present. They seemed to like it. We ask students to buy one newspaper for Rs. 3 or 4, once a week. It is a small investment towards taking ownership of content. If you buy, you will read.