Rural West Bengal, India (Khanyan Village, Hooghly District and Baidyapur Village, Bardhaman District)
"Rather than attempt to provide all things to all people, FERRY holds steadfast to its specific goal- to equip young women and men with the means to take their first steps towards economic self-sufficiency.
In a country full of NGOs busy pursuing careerism and building infrastructure, FERRY’s board members are amateurs in the best sense, constantly reassessing what they can offer the rural poor while following their mandate with fierce determination."
- Sophie Low-Beer,
Foundation for Economic Rehabilitation
of Rural Youth
FERRY, which is celebrating its 25th year in 2008, is a small non-governmental, entirely voluntary organization involved in rural development in West Bengal, India.
Its mandate is to address the perennial problem of a kind of internal “brain drain”—migration of jobless rural youth to overcrowded cities (namely Kolkata a mere day’s travel away). It does this by providing short vocational training courses to unemployed youth to help them set up businesses or get jobs that will provide them and their families with a living income. FERRY also extends such training to young women forced by widowhood or desertion to fend for themselves.
FERRY has three project sites in West Bengal where it offers a number of vocational training courses for young men and women. The courses and their content have evolved over the years reflecting the particular needs of the population they are trying to serve.
FERRY’s training courses are free and to discourage dependency, FERRY does not pay trainees a stipend. To ensure a good teacher to student ratio most courses take a maximum of about 25 students.
All courses offered by FERRY are between 6 months and 1 year in length. CIVA has been supporting FERRY since January 2004. CIVA supports all the courses held at the Khanyan site and a number of the courses held in Baidyapur.
At Khanyan the following courses have now been completed and in follow-up the majority of the graduates are working in their new found field:
- Electricians Training Course
- Manufacture of Jute Products Course
- Comprehensive Tailoring Course
- Machine Knitting Course
- Machine Embroidery Course
The Two Wheeler Repair and Maintenance course which started in April 2007 is ongoing and due to wrap up at the end of this month, February 2008. It is going well with 11 keen trainees.
At the Baidyapur site the Two Wheeler Repair and Maintenance course came to an end in January 2007 and was very successful with all trainees having found employment and as many as six owning their own garages. The Carpentry course is ongoing and due to wrap up this month. It has 21 trainees.
FERRY is an excellent organization for the following reasons:
- It has a voluntary board (like CIVA) so all funds go directly to the project
- It is a well established NGO, old by Indian standards, having been started in 1983
- It is very responsive and flexible to the needs of the population it serves
- It is a progressive organization with many of the important roles being held by local individuals and women
- Its cause- to train unemployed rural youth so they can make a living- is fundamental to CIVA’s mandate to better the lives of India’s rural poor