Earning of money by doing some work-physical or mental- is the key to empowering people and also for real development

By Muhammad Bashir Chaudhry
July 28 - Aug 03, 2003



Employment is blessing from God Almighty and for that we should all be thankful. These days in certain localities, many people do not have a regular or even an irregular job. They include people of all ages. Most of them may be illiterate while others may be dropouts from schools. Some others may be even graduates or technicians but are without a job.

Due to joint family system or support from relatives or friends, some of them may not be in serious money problems. However, a large number of them may be financially hard pressed. A significant number of such people may be old women or widows. They depend on odd jobs for their livelihood and possibly that of other members of their family. Without an occasional odd job it is hard for them to honourably survive for a few days or weeks.

Factors such as fast increasing population, migration of people from the rural areas, right sizing in the public and private sectors, ban on fresh recruitments, etc. are adding despair to the already grave unemployment situation. This is unsustainable on long-term basis. Something has to be done to provide hope to such people.

The government is said to be taking steps for employment generation and poverty alleviation. However, the things are not improving. It appears the communities have to also supplement the government' efforts and initiate remedial measures on priority basis.

Earning of money by doing some work-physical or mental- is the key to empowering people and also for real development. The jobless must learn to work to get paid. This would not hurt their self-esteem and they should be proud of earning their livelihood. People with God given financial means can provide occasional employment to the jobless.

The employment can be in many forms and shapes. Small repairs in the shops or houses of the resourceful people might be pending for some time. Instead of postponing the repairs to a future date, let it be undertaken now. It might provide employment to one or two people for a few days. There may be other many such things which could provide earning opportunities to the jobless men, women or families for a short while. As the jobless would be from the same community, the people providing the jobs might be more comfortable with them. On overall basis, such measures would help the jobless earn some money by providing services to the members of the community. They would also gain useful experience.

Public services are mostly in poor shape in most communities. It could be a small worn-out bridge over an open sewerage; a broken footpath in front of a shop, office or the house; a government or municipal school or dispensary in need of repair or paint; a playground or public park in need of boundary wall; etc. These and similar other repair works can be undertaken by the philanthropists. They shall be doing something for the public good and at the same time providing job opportunities to the jobless. As they themselves would be spending their money they would be satisfied that there has been no wastage or pilferage of their resources.

The city government authorities are expected to appreciate the initiatives and would most likely give permission for the carrying out the repairs. If handled tactfully, the city governments might also contribute matching funds for the purpose. If people find the cost of particular project is beyond the means of a single person, they can pool resources and get the works completed in consultation and coordination with the local government authorities. They would be spending money on community welfare projects and therefore in a way the whole community would benefit.

Poor people generally have large families. The head of the family tries but sometimes fails to provide for all the members of the family. Education is said to be free but he might not be able to send all children to school. Young boys are often made 'apprentices' to the local electrician, the plumber, the tailor, the motor mechanic, or other similar technical hands or masters. Work hours are generally long and the masters are not always kind. The youngsters lean the technical trade the hard way. In due course the masters start paying small amounts to the youngsters as pocket money or for meeting other expenses.



Generally transport cost is not involved and the youngsters are fed at the shop with all others. In a way, all these 'apprentices' are considered better off with these technical shops. In a few years' time most of them should 'graduate' as experts in their respective technical area. Without such an 'opening', these youngsters would be whiling away their time in the streets and probably become a nuisance for the people.

The community leaders may help these 'apprentices' through occasional meetings with the masters and exchanging views for the working conditions and welfare of the 'apprentices'.

The government might also consider issuing guidelines for the protection and welfare of these youngsters. Until the time there are more technical schools for formal and free education, this practice of taking 'apprentices' provides hope for many children. This practice might not be confused with the child-labour as here the children are learning on-the-job useful technical skills for better future.

The rich in the community can also 'adopt' some of the poor children and finance their education expenses for the primary, middle or matriculation levels. This process can help the children become better members of the community, who would most likely be one day helping other children in similar circumstances.

Jobless ladies and young girls are in more precarious situation as compared to the young boys. There are a few government as well as private institutions that offer courses in technical skills such as tailoring, embroidery, etc. but poor families find it hard to cough up the course fee and the transport expenses. There is need to set up more such institutions that are nearer to the homes and charge only nominal fees. The rich can make this happen for common good by establishing more institutes and/or financing the fees payable by one or more women or girls for learning the skills. Once the ladies and the young girls have learnt the skills they can work at their homes and provide services to the small entrepreneurs or the general public as the case may be. They would be adding value and thus help the overall economy to become healthier. The entrepreneurs and the middlemen must pay fair wages for the work performed by these skilled ladies. Due to these skills, these ladies would be better off as compared to house-hold help or maids with the families against small monthly pay. Those ladies and girls who work as house maids also deserve to be looked after and paid well.

The wholesalers and other shopkeepers can participate in the community welfare programmes in another way. They can sell on credit goods up to a specified value to the selected educated persons who can act as small shopkeepers or traveling salesmen. Fresh goods would be sold on credit if earlier dues are cleared. For those who have the knack, it may offer opportunities of some day becoming successful businessmen.

Communities progress more when the members learn to unite and act in a self-less but coordinated fashion for the common good. They stand better chances of success if they are ready to work with people having different political views or religious beliefs. People can, depending upon their respective circumstances, contribute money, goods, time or physical work in the implementation of the community welfare projects. Once people start working at community level they would be blessed with the true feelings of satisfaction and happiness. Community work would also promote understanding and friendship among members who come from different ethnic or religious backgrounds. We should all join hands for the welfare of our communities, particularly the sections who are jobless or otherwise in distress.