In India, Raju Rasila was a singer; who had mastered the art of performance. When he was younger, he breathed life into social gatherings and nightclubs with his mesmerizing voice and energetic performance. Through small gigs and occasional recognition, Raju was inching closer to his dream of becoming a professional singer. It was his true passion; his only dream. While he did make some money from his singing, his expenses always ended up having the upper hand. He often found himself struggling to make ends meet. He chose his family over his dreams of becoming a professional singer and migrated to Oman to work as a security officer. To him, it was a small price to pay for the happiness and financial stability of his family. In the labor camp where he now lives, he was known for his voice and often entertained his friends and co-workers with his performance. He started believing that he is always just going to be a voice in familiar crowds. He had no idea that things were about to change forever. One day, he came across a poster of ‘Xpress Money – Dil Ki Awaaz’, a singing competition for migrant workers across labor camps in Oman. He was excited, eager to participate; and in his excitement, he realized that ambition to be heard had never really ended.
Raju was one of the 90,000 participants who submitted their voice samples to participate in ‘Dil Ki Awaaz’, a one of a kind platform for migrant workers of different nationalities across Oman to showcase their singing talent. Over the next two months, and various rounds of short-listing, twenty exceptional singers were chosen to sing their hearts out at the Grand Finale, which was held in front of a packed audience at Oman’s Qurum Amphitheatre. Raju, along with other finalists, were adjudged by a panel of celebrity judges on their singing and performance skills. To Raju, this was a moment he had waited for all his life – a chance to show the world his true passion. The audience was enchanted by the performances and cheered for each of the migrant workers, now singers, who came on stage. After the performances, it was time to announce the winners. While the people in the audience waited in anticipation, the finalists had all already won. Like Raju, they had all found an opportunity to rekindle and live their dreams; they couldn’t ask for more. But, every competition must have a winner and this one did too. Raju Rasila, the man who thought that he had left his dreams behind, emerged as the winner. He won the first prize and his excitement while receiving the trophy and cheque from the Indian Ambassador to Oman, HE Indra Mani Pandey, was palpable. Rahul PK and Santu Mondal from India were the first and second runners up respectively.
Xpress Money – Dil Ki Awaaz was an initiative by Xpress Money that was supported by H.O.P.E., the CSR arm of Xpress Money. The event was organized to engage with the blue-collared workers of Oman and give them an opportunity to shine beyond their work. It was not just a singing competition to explore hidden talent, but to encourage people to keep working towards their dreams and aspirations. Each year, millions of people like Raju, move to other countries to earn money for a better prospect for their families back home. But it’s more than just families that they leave behind; in fact, many of them leave behind their individual dreams, passions and hobbies; in search for financial stability. As most of these migrant workers end up living in labor camps, they have limited avenues to socialize with people and even lesser ways to channelize their talents. Dil Ki Awaaz was therefore conceived as a platform of leisure, entertainment, and self-discovery for these migrant workers – something completely opposite to their everyday routine life.
For Raju, it was an unforgettable two months that ended on a high note. Now, he is not just a ‘a guy who sings well’, he is someone who proved his mettle and emerged as a winner among thousands of participants. He is an inspiration to others who think that they have left their dreams behind; a proof that your dreams never leave you behind.