Recently I had the opportunity to visit the In His Image center. It was my second visit in as many years and I was surprised to see how much things had changed in such a short amount of time. One of the major changes was to the centers vocational training program. A year ago the program was little more than one room where the older students spent part of their day learning some very important life skills and on occasion making paper bags or jewelry. Now, the program has transformed into a bustling area with diverse learning opportunities for 16 students.
The vocational program was recently able to move into a new building across the street from the In His Image center. The new building provides the students with more space and differentiated learning environments. There is an office, an individual work room, areas for handicrafts, a kitchen, and a large classroom space. Throughout the day students spend time at the different stations with schedules that are tailored to their skill sets, strengths and weaknesses.
Students have the opportunity to learn to make several handicrafts. They make jewelry, mosaic pots, and trivets, paper bags and cards, and some students are able to do block printing. There is also time in the day for students to practice basic computer and office skills. Having different areas that are clearly defined helps the students to focus on the task at hand.
One of the most exciting elements for the students and their families is the opportunity for students to earn money. For each day that a student comes to the center they receive 20 rupees. At the end of each week, students are given the opportunity to go shopping at Second Chance, the second hand store run by In His Image, or at the small snack stall down the street. If there is nothing the students wish to buy, they can save their money, and at the end of each month they are able to take home whatever they have made. Some students keep the money they have earned for personal use, and others give it to help their family with household expenses. One of the volunteers at the center shared some of the comments she has heard from parents about the money their children earn. Overall the sentiment is excitement and pride realizing more and more that their child can contribute to the family in a way never before expected.
As always, it was such an encouragement and a joy to see these students being loved and uplifted by the staff and volunteers at In His Image.