Jobish Mathew, a former inmate of YMCA Boys Home, has won a U. S. government scholarship
There is a sense of quiet about Jobish Mathew. Around him there is a flurry of activity, but he seems untouched. The volunteers of Make A Difference (MAD) go buzzing around him and he personifies calm. He has his eyes trained on bigger things.
All of 22, he has been selected for the U.S. government's Community College Initiative Program. As part of the program he will get to study in a community college in the United States for a year. The primary skill required to qualify for programme is proficiency with the English language. He was selected on the basis of a selection process that included written assessment (in English) and proficiency in speaking English. He cleared both and he is off to the U.S. on June 16.
This is not a privileged youngster we are talking about. This young man from Idukki has come up the hard way, with plenty of help from MAD. His father is a head load worker and his mother, a housewife. Extreme poverty led him to YMCA Boys Home when he was in Class VIII.
Among the questions he was asked, for written assessment, were how he would adjust to the change in culture, how he would react to being away from home for so long etc. “Staying away from home is not new for me. I came to the home when I was very young, remember?”
In 2006, when Make A Difference came into being, he was in Plus One and was among the first batch of students that MAD taught English to. After his Plus Two, he did a course in the Polytechnic. Two years of training with MAD, he says, was crucial to his being selected for the scholarship. How did he keep in touch with English after returning to Idukki? “I asked my father to subscribe to an English newspaper. I would read and keep in touch with the language.”
Krishnan Menon, of MAD, says that finding Jobish after he left YMCA Boys Home was quite a task. MAD centres, across the country, were asked to send names of prospective candidates for the programme, after the US Consulate contacted MAD asking for applicants for the programme. Sanjay Thomas Alanoly, the centre in-charge YMCA Boys Home, dug up old records and found Jobish's name. “That's all we had. But after a lot of asking around we found him,” Sanjay says.
He was teaching Networking at the Keltron Regional Education Campus at Malappuram as a trainee. Software has been a passion for him ever since he discovered the fascinating world of computers. He says he hopes to get the same stream. When the year long scholarship ends will he return or try to stay back there? “They have said there will be placements. If that happens I will stick on there,” he says. And thus begins another American dream…