Saurabh Kharat overcame slow learning disability to make a successful career in retail

In our series on how the Pankh programme is enabling inclusion in the retail workforce, we profile Saurabh Kharat from Maharashtra.

Meet Saurabh Kharat, associate trainee at a warehouse at Reliance Fresh in Thane, outside Mumbai. Kharat also handles the stocks of certain counters at the store. He is a core member of a team that services over a 1,000 customers a day.

You would say that sounds like an average day in the life of any person in the fast-paced retail industry. What makes Saurabh stand apart from others is that he is a slow learner. However, he chooses to let his many abilities speak for him, not his disability.

Early years

However, life was not always like this for Saurabh. His mother Surekha says his early years were a struggle.

My son Saurabh was 18 years old when he completed class 10 in his third attempt. Because of his slow learning, I used to worry about his future. I started to look for NGOs who could help Saurabh overcome his slow learning. We came across many NGOs who enrol such candidates for training with many promises of a job. However, we had our doubts – Surekha Kharat, Saurabh’s mother

Their reservations melted away when they came across the Pankh -Wings of Destiny program started by Trust for Retailers & Retail Associates of India (TRRAIN). The programme creates sustainable livelihood for persons with disabilities in the retail industry.

Since Pankh was launched, it has created job opportunities for over 7,500 disabled people with over 150 companies in this sector.

How Pankh works

Pankh partners with various NGOs at regional levels and conducts training program through them. The training is done over 45-60 days and provides the complete spectrum skills. All this is imparted in an interactive and easy-to-learn manner.

The training focuses on three key skills - life skills, English language skills and retail-specific skills. These are followed by On-the-Job training sessions for 10-15 days in various retail formats.

After completing this, retail organizations are invited to evaluate the disabled youth for placements.

Surekha says that before the training, Saurabh would get bored and sometimes hyperactive sitting at home. However, after the training began, he showed great improvement in behaviour. He became confident, was eager to work and become financially independent. Post training, Saurabh was selected for the Reliance Fresh store at Thane. Initially, she would drop him to work. Now he travels independently.

Saurabh’s managers say that his hard work and passion for his job shows in his attitude.

Initially we had doubts as we had to show him everything multiple times. Now he does everything completely on his own. He enjoys his work and understands what needs to be done after he is shown just once. We had hired him as part-timer, but now he works with us full-time. He has really made good progress – Happy Singh, Human Resources department, Reliance Fresh, Thane

Saurabh is now an integral part of the team. He has also won some loyal customers who always ask for him at the store.

Like Saurabh, Pankh is empowering other people with disabilities to work in the retail sector. Those interested can email info@trrain.org. NGOs looking to work with Pankh can contact them at info@trrain.org

ALSO READ: How Arun overcame his disability to help other people with disabilities

ALSO READ: How persons with disabilities are changing the landscape in retail - My Take by B S Nagesh, Founder, TRRAIN

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