Gulshan Akhtar Infuses Hope For Poonch Girls
Hand Embroidery unit at Mandi is jostling with energy never seen-before with girls queuing-up for registration for the second Hand-Embroidery course due to commence in the last week of July. The reason for this enthusiasm is a Class 10 drop-out teenager, Gulshan Akhtar, resident of Loran, a remote border village in Mandi Tehsil of Poonch and Haveli District who transformed her life by enrolling in the first Hand Embroidery course currently being run by local army unit.
Her embroidery work displayed at the institute’s entrance is grabbing attention of every visitor. She acknowledges the compliments that she receives with a subtle but confident smile. The beaming confidence on her face is a reflection of her assured future prospects which were not too bright till recently. In fact having inherited a debt of Rs. two lakhs after untimely demise of her father last year along with responsibilities for upbringing of three siblings, the future appeared to be doomed for Gulshan. But this nineteen year old got enrolled for Hand Embroidery course with attractive monthly stipend as an incentive to sustain her family. She traversed 13 Kms of rugged terrain each day for almost three months to hone mastery in embroidery skills. Her beautifully crafted work was brought to the notice of army officials responsible for running this pioneer skill development initiative. Seeing her dedication and enthusiasm, Army adopted her and took upon itself to secure her a loan to facilitate opening of an independent handicraft unit in Loran itself post completion of her course where she plans to train the native girls to make handicrafts in large numbers. Gulshan is excited about the new opportunity that has come her way as the daily income from the enterprise will not only help her repay her loans but also be a source of livelihood for many other under-privileged families. This bright prospect has suddenly brought her into limelight and every girl dreams of transforming herself into Gulshan by enrolling herself with the next course.
Army is currently training sixty girls from Below Poverty Line (BPL) families at three different training centers while a number of skill development initiatives to include plumbing and carpentry skills, driving and vehicle mechanic training, IT and computer course training have been planned to be run at the Regional ITIs for empowering the youth from economically weaker sections of society to ensure their employment and economic independence.