The Sri Sri Rural Development Programme has set up training institutes in Solan, Himachal Pradesh, with the idea of channelizing the energy of the youth in a productive direction as a step toward rooting out substance abuse.
Beginning with the Sri Sri Computer Education Institute in 2009, the programme went on to open two more institutes, an electrical training institute in 2012 and the Sri Sri Beautician Training Centre in collaboration with Godrej in 2013.
The Sri Sri Computer Education Centre trains boys and girls from the villages in the region, some of whom have gone on to gain employment at the institute as trainers.
The institute imparts training in basic computer applications such as Tally, which is used in accounting, as well as training in communication through the computer. This enables youth to be employed as computer operators.
The electrical training institute trains boys who have passed the eight grade and are 18 years of age in electrical wiring and repair of electric appliances. These youth then have the opportunity of self-employment.
Over 700 youth have benefited from these institutions since their inception. The programme not only aims to educate and enable employment across the state, but also to bring them close to traditional values while keeping them away from substance abuse.
"I hold a B.A. degree and I am currently doing my M.A. I tried giving tuitions to pay for my education, but I could not make ends meet. I wanted to take up M.C.A., but I needed money to pay the fees. Then I took up the computer training programme at the Sri Sri Computer Training Institute and today I teach at the institute, which takes care of my fees," says 25-year-old Jyoti Thakur, who hails from a family of farmers.
"During this period," Jyoti continues, "I also did the Art of Living's Happiness Programme, where I experienced the Sudarshan Kriya. It was a very good experience."
"I hold a B.A. degree and I am currently pursuing an M.A. degree. I did the Tally course at the Sri Sri Computer Training Institute and I learned a lot in just two months. The best part about the centre is that it offers good quality training at a nominal fee, which benefits poor children. There are many unemployed youth who are able to get jobs after getting trained here," says Savita Sharma, who now teaches part-time at the institute.
"I was able to do the three-month computer course at the institute for a nominal fee. It was a great experience for me because the teachers are loving and caring. I am happy that so many poor children are able to do the same, even in the electrical training institute. Many children from across different class backgrounds are able to get jobs through these centres. I am thankful to Guruji for opening such an institute," says Poonam Sharma, who holds an M.A. degree. She is a government employee in the prison department. She also underwent the Art of Living Happiness Programme.