Learning a Trade Brings Hope

Compassion International: Without Compassion's vocational planning and job training program for sponsored children, the majority of these youth would remain among the ranks of India's 700 million impoverished, unskilled laborers. The sudden death of Sujin Balraj's father was devastating. Bearing the burden of caring for his mother and family seemed insurmountable. But thanks to the vocational training classes at a Compassion-assisted project, Sujin sees a fruitful future as a mechanic.

Learning a Trade Brings Hope

By: Janet Root, Contributing Writer   |   Posted: June 20, 2005

Vocational Training Becomes Ticket out of Poverty

The sudden death of Sujin Balraj's father devastated the 16-year-old. Bearing the burden of caring for his mother and family seemed insurmountable. But thanks to vocational training classes at a Compassion-assisted project, Sujin sees a fruitful future as a mechanic. "Being in Compassion, that is the greatest blessing that I ever got from God."

Compassion India's top-notch vocational planning and job training program provides sponsored youth - often burdened by cultural expectations and trapped in generational poverty - the vital tools necessary to become fulfilled, self-supporting Christian adults. Without such intervention, the majority of these youth would remain among the ranks of India's 700 million impoverished, unskilled laborers.

Sujin Balraj's eyes well up with tears. As he recalls his life before Compassion, the teenager struggles for words.

"After my father died from a heart attack in 1990, my mother fought to earn a living for my sister, Suja, and me. The small tea stall she ran barely earned 50 rupees (just about U.S.$1) a day," says the 16-year-old. "We never had enough food or clothing and education was a distant dream because of our lack of income."

In addition to his family's poverty, Sujin carried a cultural burden. The only male heir in his family, it was ultimately his responsibility to support his mom and pay for his sister's eventual marriage dowry. He became despondent and depressed, knowing that jobs for impoverished males in his community were limited to bricklaying.

A Burden Lifted

But in 1997, the Bethel Child Development Center (IN-778) opened its doors near his family home in Parassala and Sujin, eight years old at the time, enrolled immediately. Today, the 16-year-old claims Compassion has provided him basic necessities and a solid foundation for his life in Christ.

"Compassion has also helped me to discover and use my talents," he says.

In his project, Sujin has learned about different career options and received vocational testing to help him find the career that best suits him.

A Job and a Future of Hope

"In Compassion we work on a completion plan," says Sujin. "I've had a chance to go to job exhibitions in our project so when the teachers talked to me about my completion plan, I told them, 'I want to become a mechanic!' My plan is to work with my cousin who is training to be a mechanic after completing my professional course with my project's assistance," the teenager exclaims.

For the children of a nation with 700 million poor, unskilled laborers, Compassion India's vocational skills plan is a ticket out of poverty.

"If it weren't for Compassion, I could never have studied and I would have probably ended up being a bricklayer," concludes the grateful teenager.

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