According to data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Mumbai has been ranked second in crimes committed by juveniles recording 946 cases in the year 2016. Delhi being first and Pune third. 1
According to research, first-time offenders who have lived amongst big-time criminals tend to get attracted towards easy money. Family pressure, social and economic backgrounds and their lack of education peg them towards the world of crime which feels like an easy escape. This results in them being sent to observation homes. The ‘relapse’ is much more dangerous than the first crime and hence, it is absolutely essential to groom them when they step out for the first time.
In an attempt to break this vicious cycle, Sanish Kulkarni along with Ashok Hatagale and like minded-friends founded AYANSH Foundation – a not-for-profit organisation that works towards improving the lives of at-risk youth in Mumbai through skill training and development. Apart from painting and carpentry, Sanish believed that empowering these adolescents with 21st-century skills would instil in them a sense of pride and accountability. Therefore, he introduced them to graphic designing and digital marketing.
According to Sanish, “For underprivileged kids, getting into the cycle of committing crimes, serving time, going back to the crime is very easy. What is hard is to get out of that cycle, learn a new skill and make a career for themselves, and that is exactly what we are trying to help them with.”
Ayansh provides at-risk youth with compete skills for the digital world that will enable them to secure employment with credible organisations.
Sanish’s own personal experience drove him to the idea of starting Ayansh – Advocating Youth At-risk Through Nurturing & Support Hub. Coming from a middle-class socio-economic background, Sanish faced a financial crunch while completing his high school. He found himself in not-so-good company and was tempted to take steps that could ruin his future. This part of his life gave him an insight that not all criminals are bad, circumstances put them into bad situations.
As he was completing his first year at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS, Tuljapur), Sanish started Ayansh Foundation in 2016. Inspired by other social enterprises and his own life, he wished to make a change in the lives of young adults who were living the observation homes. He began with group discussions, analysed their interests and started giving them skill-based training like painting, carpentry, etc.
As months passed by, he realised that labour-oriented work (carpentry and painting) were not areas of interest for the juveniles. They wanted to acquire skills that would land them white collar jobs that would pay them well more than labour work.
Hence around July 2018, the founders launched a training center that would help these at-risk youth to master various concepts of digital marketing and graphic designing. They are allowed to pick any concepts that align with their interest.
On the recommendation of probation officers, these at-risk youth visit the training center. After a brief discussion and analyses of their interests, they are enrolled for training. During their four months of training, the youth leverage the support and build an excellent portfolio of their skills that can be exhibited in any job interview. The foundation also provides them with an 8-month internship that enables them to hone their skills, gain confidence, and be exposed to the real world.
From a humble batch of 8 boys, Ayansh Foundation is now working with 15 boys in the Thane district of Mumbai.
Sanish shares with us how his journey has been extremely fulfilling till date, “A young boy was learning to design with us, and in the initial days, he used to dislike coming to a room where he was supposed to learn something. But as the days passed, he got more and more interested in the software and now he can design logos and other complicated stuff. He also works at a leading fast food chain in the night to support his family and other expenses. The most encouraging factor is that these boys go on to get their friends who are not at-risk youths from the same community to join the center and learn digital designing to start something of their own. It feels great to see these boys taking a step towards making their lives better after going through the things they have been through.”
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