Hailing from Kolkata and now a resident of Bengaluru, Sromona is a multimedia journalist who has a knack for digging stories that truly deserve attention.
In 2013, the then 17-year-old Rohim Momin’s world turned upside down when both his parents passed away. Rohim, who aspired to become a teacher as a child, suddenly found himself at a place where he became the sole breadwinner for three of his sisters. Orphaned and in need of a job, Rohim was forced to drop out of Class XI and started working to earn money for his family’s survival.
Under the guidance of his brother-in-law, Rohim at the tender age of 17, started working as a construction labourer in his village in Malda, West Bengal. However, upon realising that he was in need of more money to provide a better quality of life for his sisters, Rohim decided to go to Delhi and join a labour workforce there.
Rohim who is now 22 years old, took a step towards an uncertain life when he got off the train in Delhi for the first time. Little did he know that within four years, he would go on to represent Indian on a global scale. The Logical Indian spoke to Rohim Momin over a phone call, where he talked about his journey of being a high-school dropout to a master bricklayer representing India at World Skills Competition in 2017.
Recalling his days from 2013, Rohim said, “I got introduced to a contractor who brought people like me to Delhi who was looking for work.” His first job was working as a mason’s help at a construction site in Sector 71 of Noida and earned a mere Rs 6000, most of which he used to send to his sisters in Malda. After having worked there for over six months, Rohim gained more expertise in the whole business of masonry, more specifically bricklaying. Within the first year in Delhi, Rohim took up masonry at a company named ATS Infrastructure.
It was there that Rohim got to know about a competition on masonry. An intrigued Rohim then enrolled himself for the competition and was placed in the second spot among 18 participants across the Delhi NCR region. He then went on to compete at the national level and bagged the second spot at the National Skills Competition in 2015. Rohim said that the journey has been arduous and it required immense hard work and determination.
In 2016, Rohim was selected to compete in the World Skills Competition that was to be held in Abu Dhabi in 2017. To prepare for the same, Rohim had to train intensively for 14 months in CREDAI’s Kushal initiative in Pune. From September 2016 to October 2017, Rohim trained on five aspects of bricklaying on the basis of which he was supposed to be judged at the competition.
He said, “We were taught the five key things namely dimension, level, alignment, plumb and detail.” In Pune, Rohim was taught to use sophisticated tools, improved materials and machinery that he said are mostly used in western countries as well as in the competition. He also went to Denmark for a week in July in 2017 to gain an international perspective into bricklaying. His company, ATS Infrastructure, kept rolling his monthly salary even as he was busy preparing for the competition. Moreover, the company also promoted him to the position of a supervisor even before he went to Pune for his training.
In October 2017, Rohim along with 27 others in the Indian team went to Abu Dhabi where he competed with participants from 30 countries in the bricklaying skill competition. In 22 hours, Rohim had to construct three models. Even though Rohim put in all his efforts, the results did not favour his way.
It is true that Rohim did not win the competition as he stood at the fifth position, but he did end up winning the ‘Medallion Of Excellence.’ “When I came to know that I didn’t win the competition, I was very sad, and I kept on crying for the whole day. I didn’t even come out of my room.” Today, a confident Rohim is the Assistant Foreman at ATS Infrastructure and has successfully got one of his sisters married while also paying for another sister’s education who is only in class VI.
India has been participating in the World Skills Competition since 2007 which showcases the value of different skills and raises the recognition of skills professionals across the globe. India in 2017’s competition participated in 26 skills categories. India has also bagged a silver and bronze along with nine medals and medallions.
Rohim’s exposure to the world outside India has opened his eyes and has furthered his zeal to achieve excellence. He has realised that while skilled labour and quality workmanship is something the western countries focus on, for Indians, it stands as the last option. He said, “Labourers in India are lowly paid and looked down upon, whereas, a bricklayer or a mason in foreign countries have cars and good houses.”
Importance of skills in India is less, and it is because of people like Rohim Momin that a skill which is as intricate and detailed as bricklaying is gaining importance. The Logical Indian community commends Rohim for his efforts and wishes him good luck for his future.
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