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India

Delhi Archdiocese begins Year of Mercy with opportunities

Church fair gives disabled job seekers the chance of a lifetime

Ritu Sharma, New Delhi

Ritu Sharma, New Delhi

Published: December 18, 2015 06:27 AM GMT

Updated: June 01, 2016 03:24 AM GMT

Delhi Archdiocese begins Year of Mercy with opportunities

A girl dances at the start of the Ability Utsav in New Delhi on Dec. 16. The job fair was organized by Delhi Archdiocese's social service center for people with disabilities. (Photo by Bijay Kumar Minj) 

Jyoti Khandelwal is all smiles. She cannot believe she has just landed a job with a cell phone company. Holding her crutches, she thanks God for the opportunity to prove her worth to her family.

Khandelwal, 23,who hails from Rohtak district in northern Haryana state, suffers from polio. She knew life would not be easy and she would have to grab every opportunity that came her way. Getting a job was one of them.

"I do not want to be a burden on my family. My parents are worrying about me because it is difficult for them to find a husband for me," she said.

But Khandelwal now has a job answering calls at the customer service center of a cell phone company. Being financially independent is a milestone in her life.

"My parents will not be there for all my life and my brothers and sisters will have their own families to look after. So I must be self-sufficient and my parents can now relax," she said.

Khandelwal landed the job through a job fair for disabled persons organized on Dec.16 by Chetnalaya, the social arm of Delhi Archdiocese. The fair was an archdiocese activity to kickstart the special Year of Mercy.

Pope Francis declared an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy beginning Dec. 8 on the feast of the Immaculate Conception and which will conclude on Nov. 20, 2016 on the feast of Christ the King.

 

Financial independence seen as a milestone

Of the 1,500 people who attended the "Ability Utsav [festival]" in New Delhi, more than 200 attended the job fair, where companies such as Vodafone, Reliance (an Indian conglomerate) and KFC had booths. Some of those who registered got offered jobs on the spot.

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For Aarti, 20, who hails from Delhi, a job is important for securing her future. Handicapped by a serious limp, she has been earning only 3,000 rupees (US$45) a month working in a garment factory.

"The companies that have come here to interview us are good brands. I hope to get a job in one and earn more than I used to," said Aarti, who left her garment job a few months ago.

Company officials at the job fair said many of candidates lacked education but were still able to do jobs like taking calls or entering data in computers.

 

Company officials interview people with disabilities for jobs at the Ability Utsav (festival)" in New Delhi. More than 200 people attended the job fair. (Photo by Bijay Kumar Minj) 

 

The companies seemed ready to pay selected candidates between 8,000 to 11,000 rupees a month.

"Despite limitations, these people have remarkable willpower and a strong desire to learn more," said Dhaara, who goes by one name and who was interviewing candidates for Vodafone.

Dhaara said she had hired four job seekers and had asked them to start work soon.

 

Year of Mercy in action

"Every year we celebrate a day for the disabled, but this time, since it was also the Year of Mercy, we thought of giving them this kind of opportunity," Father Savari Raj, director of Chetnalaya, told ucanews.com.

Many people do not have access to these kinds of opportunities because they lack resources or because they do not know about them, he added.

"We wanted the companies to come to them and give them the chance they deserve," he said.

A special fund for the poor has been set up in the church-run Holy Family Hospital in New Delhi so the needy can be helped as well as addressing unemployment among young people, the priest said.

Chetnalaya also plans to build a resource center in Rohtak for disabled children by the end of the special year.

"We would provide education, vocational training and physiotherapy to these children," he added.

These are some of the practical efforts we are making for the Year of Mercy, Father Raj said.

Spiritual efforts will include a survey of the number of Catholics in Delhi to find out their spiritual needs and serve them better.

It is to understand how the archdiocese can best contribute in the spiritual life of the laity. "We would see if people attend Sunday Mass  or prayer meetings regularly or if parish priests are visiting families," he said.

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