I missed so many opportunities because of being a Dalit woman,” says 23-year-old Anita Bhusal, who struggled to find a job because of her caste. That all changed when she was accepted in the Innovative Internship Program financed by the Uniterra Program, and delivered by the Professional Development and Research Center (PDRC). The initiative, which provided training in professional skills and a placement at a local non-governmental organization to gain practical work experience, is helping to break the cycle of discrimination against Dalits by enhancing their eligibility for employment.
The six-month pilot program, designed specifically for new graduates of the Dalit community, was divided into two phases. The first two months were intensive trainings in English language, computer essentials and administration skills. This was an essential part of the training as the selected seven interns spoke little English and lacked confidence to express themselves clearly. During the final four months, interns were placed with Uniterra’s partners working in the sustainable forest management sector. Here they had the opportunity to work alongside Canadian interns from Students Without Borders, fostering the exchange of ideas and transfer of skills among the youth from different cultural backgrounds.
I am very proud of myself,” says Bhusal, who traveled to Dholoka to intern with the Federation of Community Forest Users of Nepal (FECOFUN), an organization dedicated to natural resource management. Hesitant at first to travel far from home, she found the new experience exciting, especially working with her Canadian counterpart. “I have changed. Before I didn’t know office work or administration tasks and I didn’t speak much English. Now I can talk to foreigners and talk in front of large groups of people.” As the only woman at her new job as a computer operator at a prison in Parsa, she attributes her improved public speaking skills and boosted self-confidence as reasons she stood out among the other applicants. Two other graduates have also secured employment after completing the program as a result of acquiring new skills and competencies. Others are preparing to write the test for government candidacy.
Sagun Bista, Senior Program Manager for Uniterra/CECI is very pleased with the outcome of the program and would like it to continue. “The internship program is an effective way to break the cycle of discrimination towards Dalits”, she says. “The connection with the Canadian volunteers also helped the Dalit interns learn about career development. Both the Nepali and Canadians befitted from learning more about each other’s approaches to work and society.
About PDRC: Professional Development and Research Center (PDRC) is a non-profit social organization established in 2005 with the vision to help create a discrimination-free society. PRDC primarily works to increase the access of Dalit and other underprivileged youth to quality higher education and equip them with professional skills and competencies to enhance their employability potential in this highly competitive job market, including and not limited to the government jobs. PDRC contributes to the educational endeavors and career development of the Dalit community, who were forbidden from gaining access to education for centuries.
(This news was published in Uniterr’s website from Montreal. This project was funded by Uniterra and PDRC was the implementing partner.)
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