A native of a small village in Sindri district, Jharkhand, Rajkumar dropped out of school in 8th standard. This was partly due to the family’s financial circumstances but also due to the lack of motivation he experienced following his mother’s demise at an early age. His father sold bamboo baskets – the kind that are typically used for poojas — to make a living, and ran the household on daily earnings that averaged anywhere from Rs 200 to 300.
Soon Rajkumar and his brother stepped in to support their father by helping with the basket production and selling. At other times, they would go into the main market area of Sindri in search of daily wage jobs. They would sign up for whatever was available on any given day – at construction sites, shops or other local businesses. Some days the trek to Sindri yielded nothing and they would return home, tired and discouraged.
In 2018, the brothers got to know about the Make India Capable program through a cousin who had enrolled in it previously. They were buoyed by the prospect of getting secure jobs with steady monthly incomes at the end of the program.
Talking about the main thing he gained from the program, Rajkumar said: “It trained me to communicate, and gain confidence to handle situations. I felt more comfortable about taking up new challenges and jobs.” Following the program, both brothers were able to find jobs at a food outlet in Kallakurichi district of Tamil Nadu with help from the Head Held High placement team. It meant moving far away from home but it made economic sense for both Rajkumar and his brother, Amar.
Rajkumar said: “At home, we rarely had more than Rs 500 at any given time, and so I was so surprised when I got my first salary of Rs 10K. It was one of the best days of my life.”
He and his brother are doing well at their newly adopted town and aim to continue in their current jobs.
“I am happy to have gained the trust of my father. Today he believes we have the courage to try something new, to go to another place and to make our future better”, he said.
With his sons now supporting him on the economic front, the father is able to continue to make bamboo products – not for subsistence but as a pastime that he enjoys.