No Stone Unturned

Placement is always a challenge. Most candidates register themselves with EnAble India, looking for jobs. Each story is unique, and several are heart-rending. This makes the staff at EnAble India all the more determined to ensure that a suitable job is obtained, that both the candidate and company are happy and satisfied enough to make the relationship a long-lasting one, and that it is a win-win situation for all concerned.

The challenges that EnAble India faces while placing a single candidate are many. Right from counselling the candidate, the family, and the company, understanding the job requirements, identifying workplace solutions, grooming and training the candidate, to post-placement counselling and hand-holding, the job is a tough one. But to the folks at EnAble India, nothing is impossible.

Take the case of Govindaraju. Totally blind, Govindaraju did not have a job for over ten years. Over forty, with a family to maintain, his need was urgent. Though his attitude was excellent, language was very good, and he was mature and capable, the main drawback was that he was computer illiterate. The post of a telephone operator was available at a company, and Govindaraju seemed the ideal candidate.
However, the place of work was too far. Travelling from Whitefield to Jayanagar 4th block every day was out of the question, since it took over 2 hours to travel one way. Govindaraju did try out the route once, but traffic conditions made it practically unfeasible. The company however, did not want to lose such a good candidate. It gave EnAble India time to work out a solution.

Thus began the challenge. Working from home was the first option, as a remote telephone operator. The company agreed to this, provided an Airtel landline connection existed, so that he could take calls from customers to answer their queries. EI spoke to Airtel; however, it was not possible to have the connection to Govindaraju’s house because it was located in a very interior area.

The search shifted to places close to his home. The first target was the Divine Light school for the blind. They were very willing to give the requisite work space, but the Airtel connection was not available.

The next was Shell at Brookefields. Shell already had a relationship with EnAble India, and this could help. Airtel connection was available, but Shell was unwilling to provide the workspace because of the obvious risks involved in having a totally blind person on the premises. However, EI convinced them to provide some space behind the bunk, and even gave Govindaraju an orientation around the area. Everything looked great, but unfortunately, there was no bus convenience at all for Govindaraju to reach the place. The solution was abandoned as it was impractical.

Shell at Varthur was examined next on the same day. The bus convenience was very good, but Airtel was not available.

Meanwhile, other people were being contacted as well. Things didn’t quite work out with a firm on Airport Road. Another place had everything required – the space, Airtel connection, bus convenience – but it was for ladies only, and they didn’t want any male on the premises.

All contacts were paged to see if any solution could be found. Volunteers were pursued to no avail. Old data was mined, memories were jogged, and finally through a series of wrong numbers, a very old contact was reached. He was running an NGO in the interior of Whitefield, and was most open to the idea of Govindaraju working on his premises. But – you guessed it right – bus services were not convenient, and Airtel connection was not available.

Café Coffee Day was tried, but the Airtel landline connection was not ok due to some technical problems. Shell near ITPL was perfect, but that bunk was closing down. Shell on Old Madras Road had convenient buses, Airtel connection was available, but there were some technical issues due to which they could not draw the cable through. Big Bazaar was given a shot, but that didn’t work out either.

By now, the Airtel folks had become good friends with the EI staff, even sending good morning and good night messages, and answering all their calls with ‘Where do you want the connection today?’! EI was getting rather frustrated, for no solution seemed to be in sight. It was rapidly approaching two months since the start, and the company was also getting impatient.

They decided to take a rather drastic approach. They decided to just roam the area close to Govindaraju’s house, and see if anything came up. A tailor in the locality was willing, but there was no space in his tiny shop. Another place offered turned out to be involved in rather dubious activities. The door-to-door search continued, a rather desperate feeling setting in. Was all this effort a total waste? Would it be a futile search?

Finally, a school for the mentally retarded was located. The school was closed because it was past 7pm. However, the phone numbers were taken, and the school contacted the next morning. The gentleman in charge was very co-operative and open to the whole setup. He asked for certain formalities to be completed such as a request letter, etc. Everything seemed perfect – it was convenient for Govindaraju to travel to and from this place, the Airtel connection was possible and tested, and they had even provided a separate room. A great sigh of relief went up. At last, a solution had been reached.

But wait! There were still some hiccups. Airtel wanted some documentation, which the company had to provide. So EI began following up with the company. Then came the shocker – Airtel would not provide the connection because the company had some outstanding bills! So now, EI was following up with the company to clear the bills.

The clouds all cleared one fine day, and the sun finally shone through. Everything fell into place and Govindaraju began working!

Over two months of effort to place a single candidate. That’s the kind of dedication the EI staff bring to the table. The challenges are indeed unique, and this is what makes their work so interesting. More power to them!

– Anitha Murthy