Read Abigail’s story – Shuba’s Smile


Abigail TerHaar is an AIF William J. Clinton Fellow for Service in India and has joined Reaching Hand until July 2017 to help expand Reaching Hand’s (RH) ‘Pratishtha’ program.  Before joining RH, she was a Fulbright-Nehru Scholar in Delhi where she taught in a government- aided school and developed a child rights curriculum. Abby has previously worked on foreign policy and international adoption in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. A 2015 graduate of Texas Christian University, she studied in Texas, Washington, DC, Dakar, Senegal and Chandigarh, India and holds a B.S. in Political Science.  She wrote the following blog post about her work at Reaching Hand for the American India Foundation.

As we walked into our Kothanur Center, we met a girl dangling her keys, flashing a giant pearly white smile and disseminating sweets. “I started earning, so I bought a bike!” she exclaimed. Shuba had recently graduated from Reaching Hand’s Skills Training Program, Pratishtha, and started a job doing data entry at a large company. She’d brought sweets to pay her respects to the trainers who had helped her through a three-month journey learning life skills, work skills, English, customer interaction and typing.

However, the road to Shuba’s success has not always been smooth. Shuba’s father recently passed and her mother is a housewife leaving Shuba and her brother as the sole earners in the household. Previously, she was unable to use a computer but through the program she learned typing and computer skills. She had low self-esteem and was terrified of job interviews when she entered the course.

Shuba at RH’s Pratishtha Centre in Kothanur

Now, as a very bubbly and energetic 20 year old, it is hard to believe Shuba was once shy and apprehensive. Having perfected her typing skills, she is now teaching her brother typing in the evenings, in the hopes that he too can join an office job. Propelled by her newfound confidence, Shuba plans to work at her office for the next 5-6 years to save money before taking the required tests to accomplish her long-term dream of becoming a policewoman.

Pratistha, meaning Prestige, is one of the six programs at my placement, Reaching Hand and the main program I am working on. As there are over 20 million youth in India unemployed and not enrolled in school and only 10 percent of those employed receiving any skills training, there is a huge need for low cost training to increase skills and employment. Partnering with Quest Alliance and Accenture, Pratistha aims to bridge that gap by focusing on skill development and job placement in three low-income communities of Bangalore.

For Shuba, Prestige came in the form of confidence, and her newest prized possession: her motorcycle. For other students who have graduated from Pratistha, prestige comes in the form of economic independence, gender equality, and a feeling of accomplishment.


“First published on the AIF Clinton Fellowship Blog



Reaching Hand is a registered Charitable Trust started in 1996 in Bangalore, formed with an aim to work among underprivileged children, vulnerable youths and disadvantaged women. We envision an empowered future for all by acting as a catalyst for social change. We empower children, youth and women through our innovative program focusing on the areas of education, health and skill development so that they lead a life of self-worth, hope and dignity.

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