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Amal Shaji: Discovering His True Potential

Meet Amal, a young man who defied odds as a construction worker to discover his true potential.

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At 16-years-old, young Amal Shaji, a resident of Wayanad in Kerala thought he could only work as a construction worker his entire life. His family lived like nomads, taking shelter at a construction site until the job was done, and then off to the next one. 

Amal was paid Rs. 500 per week at a construction site, where he worked for over a year after completing Class 10. He quit his job and enrolled for the career readiness program at Centre for Development and Empowerment of Women (CDEW) after he was told he would be able to upskill and get improved employment.

CDEW is Quest Alliance’s partner in Kerala where a career readiness program is offered for young people. The program helps the students build key 21st century skills like digital literacy, life skills, workplace readiness, and communication skills. 

Amal acknowledged his lack of communication skills and was eager to pick them up from the CDEW trainers. “When I enquired about the course, I was immediately drawn to the communications module,” he says.

Recollecting his childhood growing up at a construction site, Amal did not have anyone to talk to or play with, he says. His parents were busy at work throughout the day and he was left to play on his own. At school, he would hesitate to talk to students as he thought they would make fun of him. “I can now speak with anybody who approaches me with ease,” he adds now with pride. 

Amal, now 18-years-old is currently employed at a fast-food chain restaurant in Malappuram where he earns Rs. 10,000 a month. “I am able to converse with customers in English with ease. I am also currently being trained to do billing at the restaurant, which would not have been possible without the computer skills I learnt at CDEW,” he beams. 

The digital literacy classes, which included lessons on how to use a computer, helped him a lot at his current job

Amal’s parents continue to work as construction labourers in Wayanad. However, they can now rely on their son to make purchases of necessities. “I purchased groceries for our household with my first salary. It felt rewarding,” he says. His parents have also been able to get a house to stay on rent.

Amal’s father had to borrow money from lenders during the COVID-19 lockdown to make ends meet. He hopes to pay those off as soon as possible. “I dream of buying a house for my parents someday,” he says. He aspires to excel in the retail industry and become a manager at a store someday. 

Amal Shaji

Alumni, Centre for Development and Empowerment of Women

“I am able to converse with customers in English with ease. I am also currently being trained to do billing at the restaurant, which would not have been possible without the computer skills I learnt at CDEW.”