Students with Amrita-PMKVY Skill Programs in Odisha rush to the aid of their villagers after Cyclone Fani

Damage at the Amrita-PMKVY Skills Training Center in Janla, Odisha.

Cyclone Fani, which had wind speeds between 175-200 km/hr, made landfall in the state of Odisha, India on May 3rd. The storm hit the village of Janla which is home to an Amrita-PMKVY Skills Training Center, and the center was severely damaged. Despite the aftermath, the 47 students who study there are determined to both help their communities recover and complete their studies in June as scheduled.

Amrita-PMKVY is a partnership between Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham and the Government of India’s Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojan (PMKVY). The purpose is to give students from underserved communities in remote locations access to state-of-the-art skill training in critical, industry-relevant areas. The newly inaugurated centre in Janla includes courses such as automotive service technician, general plumbing and self-employed tailor.

Teams from AMMACHI Labs immediately visited affected areas to survey the damage and mobilize humanitarian efforts. Several structures and homes were hit, but thankfully there were no severe injuries to report. In fact, the Amrita-PMKVY students were quickly on-the-ground to come to the aid of their family and neighbours.

During one visit, they found a plumbing student busy at work performing plumbing repairs on broken fixtures in his village. At another house, they met a proud father of a plumbing student praising his daughter’s motivation and success in participating in the Amrita-PMKVY courses, especially when her skills enabled her to come to the aid of others. For him, his daughter’s enrollment in the training program is also a way to secure her future.

As the team continued, they saw that it was apparent that no cyclone or disaster could stop the motivation and resilience of the Amrita-PMKVY community. Many places still lacked electricity, water and proper infrastructure, but even so, the students persisted in helping and were also eager to get back to class.

“I have never seen this kind of resilience and motivation,” said PhD researcher Srividya Sheshadri. “These people have lost so much, yet they are highly motivated to finish their coursework. It’s very inspiring.”

Next week, Amrita is planning an in-depth rehabilitation outreach for affected villages. The team will continue to survey damaged areas and train villagers about potential government grants and ways to approach the government for rehabilitation funding. Amrita has been running village empowerment programs in the area since 2013, and the communities now include Guptapada, Binjagiri, Barapitta and Hariram Mad.