Since 1995 every year up to 50 young women from the surrounding villages are given the opportunity to undergo a twelve month training in sewing and tailoring.
This training takes place in our Base Centre in Bamhani as well as in the three Sub Centres where there are sewing machines for each student, chalkboards for teaching and sketching out ideas, and bulletin boards for pinning up miniature model designs first made out of paper and then out of cloth.
The trainees learn how to stitch 30 different designs of clothing, including blouses, pants, and traditional Indian dress. They start with sewing clothes for children, including underwear, shirts, trousers, caps and little dresses. After completing these tasks, the trainees move on to making women's clothes (night dresses, blouses, petty coats, Salwar Kameez etc.) and men's wear (trousers, shirts etc.).
The training is, however, not for free. Depending on whether the course is Government-aided, the girls have to pay Rs. 1,500 (£21) for the whole period, including the tuition and examination fees, and a contribution towards the cost of daily transport to the Sangam Base Centre or one of the Sub Centres.
During the training, theoretical and practical interim exams have to be passed, and at the end of the course a certain quota (subject to change) of young women, having passed at least 10th grade, can appear for the government examination, whereas the remaining students will be examined by the Sangam and awarded the Sangam's own tailoring qualification. All sewing class students are given the opportunity to purchase a sewing machine either used (roughly Rs. 1,000 or £14) or new (Rs. 2,400 or £35) with the help of a ‘rolling loan' provided by the Sangam which they pay back once they start earning money.
Since 1995 275 girls from the rural villages have completed the training, of which 185 now own a sewing machine and many have set up small businesses in their own villages. According to our experience the training not only enables the participants to contribute remarkably to their families' incomes (Rs. 500-2,000 monthly or £8-28), it also helps the young women develop self-esteem and confidence in their own abilities.
Since 2006 when the Sangam started working in the slums more than 285 young women have successfully completed a six months training course in the Sangam Slum centres and obtained the Sangam's tailoring qualification.
Starting in 2004 the Technical School in Bamhani Base Centre provides technical education to young adult males, who should have passed 10th grade, but at the least should have mastered the 9th grade. However the Sangam also accepts school drop-outs, if they are willing to study well in the Technical School.
6-months courses in House-Wiring/Motor-Rewinding
The students (up to 20 per course) learn the basics of how electricity works, how electric motors can be repaired, how to read schematic wiring diagrams, and their practical application. The course runs for six months, and those students who have long access journeys may stay at Bamhani Base Centre during this time, paying a nominal boarding fee. As long as the course is supported by the Government Polytechnic College, the tuition fees are waived. On successful completion of the particular course, the students receive a government recognised certificate which enables them quite easily to obtain jobs. The purpose of the course is to give the students a thorough grounding in the basics of electricity, wiring and two-wheeler repairing and a sense of self-confidence. The students can then go on to apply for jobs at local companies, where they will receive further instruction on more specific wiring tasks. In addition to the technical schooling the young men are also educated in health topics such as nutrition, sex, HIV and hygiene.
The course beginning in 2004 was initially funded by the German Government and is now run on Sangam's own funds or donations from abroad.
Since 2004 Sangam has trained more than 140 boys. Most of them are now working in local factories, like Pradip Sahare. Others have opened their own technical business, like Pankaj Awchat, who is now a well known personality in his village.
1-year Two-Wheeler-Repairing Course
From July 2008 the Sangam have started a new government-recognised 2-Wheeler-Repairing course in the newly extended Workshop-facilities of the Technical School. The course aims at providing a sound education in Two-Wheeler-Repairing and includes boarding in the Bamhani Base Centre for a nominal fee which can be paid in instalments. At the end of the course, the government certificate is of tremendous help for participants while seeking for employment.
3 month Computer Course
From October 2010 the Ecumenical Sangam, with the support and assistance of the local Government Polytechnic College, has started a Computer Course in the Bamhani Base Centre of three months duration primarily for the village youth. This course will be run under the Skills Up-Grade programme of the Government of India following the revival by the Government of this programme.
The Polytechnic College have provided 6 computers and are paying the monthly salary of the Course Instructor. The Sangam for their part are providing suitable accommodation and are responsible for organising and recruiting between 20 and 25 students for each 3 months course. This course has been recognised by the Government, which enables the Polytechnic College who will be running the examinations, to award government certificates to the successful students.