From the valley of fear to the valley of hope
Kashmiri youth are an integral part of this country and we need to support them and give them proper education. It’s not just about giving them skills training. It’s about making them feel included and making them understand the importance of spreading peace in order to be prosperous,” – Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar about the importance of working with youth from Kashmir.
Coming from the small town of Badgam near Srinagar, these 25 youth were engaged in labour, farming or were on the lookout for employment opportunities but in vain. Most of them had dropped out of education due to financial reasons. These youth were given technical and soft-skills training for 3 months at the Sri Sri Kaushal Vikas Kendra under the Prime Minister’s Kaushal Vikas Yojana. All costs including transportation, food, accommodation were borne by the Art of Living.
The batch first attended a Youth Leadership Training Program, Art of Living’s flagship program in training and building community leaders. They were energized by the yoga and breathing techniques that were taught to them, and their confidence levels were boosted with the soft skills and leadership training. “I was working as a labourer in my village because I studied only up to high school. I couldn’t afford higher education and had to start work to support my parents. This training has been a blessing for me. I can now create my own opportunity. But more than the technical skills it has given me, I’m thankful for how these 3 months have changed me as a person. I’m more hopeful that peace will come to Kashmir now,” says Ashfaq about his experience of the training.
Many of these youth were placed after the training and others were excited about their future. Some of them wanted to set up similar skills development centres on their return and create employment opportunities. “The idea is to give them a constructive way to express themselves and their talents. We want them to take a fresh look at life and think positively and creatively. This skills training program is a small effort in that direction,” says Kiran, a trainer at Sri Sri Kaushal Vikas Kendra.