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India is home to 25 percent of the world’s poor and more than 30 percent of the country’s population lives in poverty, according to the World Bank. Child labor continues to be a serious issue in the country with more than 10 million children in the workforce, even though India has made significant progress the past eight years reducing the number of out-of-school children from 25 million to 8 million. An estimated 11 million children live on the streets facing the daily horrors of rampant exploitation, forced labor, widespread substance abuse and physical violence. For many, it is difficult to imagine a better life.

Salesian missionaries living and working in India place special emphasis on rescuing and rehabilitating children engaged in child labor. There are Salesian-run programs throughout the country that have helped hundreds of thousands of vulnerable youth through the years, and this work continues today.

More Missions In India

Build primary & secondary schools

Salesian programs in India create possibilities for forgotten children and youth to succeed. Salesian missionaries ensure youth receive education, skills training and workforce development services so that they can become productive citizens. They also keep the safety of highly at-risk children a priority, protecting them through child rights education and removal of children from dangerous working conditions.

Salesian missionaries in Garigaon, a small settlement located in a strongly tribal region in the state of Assam, operate an elementary school with a kindergarten program that accommodates up to 700 children. Most of the people living in Garigaon belong to different ethnic groups and came to the settlement as migrants, either because they had abandoned their homes of origin in search of a job or because the lands they cultivated were expropriated. The living conditions of these families have not improved after migration, and they are still struggling with the long-term effects of displacement.

Salesian missionaries of Guwahati have been active in the area for many years. When migration from tribal areas began, the village streets were filled with very young children who spent their days outdoors, unsupervised and with no care. In 1988, Salesian missionaries constructed a kindergarten, which over the years developed into an elementary school on the same complex. The school aims to provide education and structure for vulnerable children of tribal origin.

Provide technical & vocational training

Salesian missionaries provide technical and vocational training programs across India to help youth gain the skills needed to find and retain employment. At the Don Bosco Tech of Dimapur, the largest city in Nagaland, technical skills training and workforce development services are provided for poor youth. Don Bosco Tech’s skills training programs serve as a valuable resource for youth who have little access to education. In order to help youth find work most efficiently, the Salesian skills training programs meet the needs of local job markets.

Courses combine classroom education with mentoring, soft skills training and hands-on internships. Salesian teachers also work with students to help them craft résumés and prepare for interviews, all with the goal of ensuring graduates find employment. Through this extra support, students find that they have a smoother transition from the classroom into the workforce.

In another program, the Don Bosco Private Industrial Training Institute in Chinchwad, a part of Pune Metropolitan City in the state of Maharashtra, has developed a partnership with Mercedes-Benz to develop the Advanced Auto Body Repair Training Center. The Center aims to help youth develop advanced technical skills so they can seek a career in the competitive automotive service sector.

Selected candidates in the program have the opportunity to learn and train with the latest equipment, including a Mercedes-Benz C-Class provided by the company. This one-of-a-kind course falls in line with Skill India, an initiative which aims to improve the skill set of India’s youth and create a highly-skilled workforce. This training center also provides Mercedes-Benz with a skilled labor force, which plays a crucial role in excellent customer service.

Operate colleges & universities

The Don Bosco College of Agriculture in Chennai was inaugurated in October 2014 as the first Catholic agricultural college in India. Agricultural training on the 250-acre campus began more than six decades ago when a group of Salesians founded a small agricultural school to train rural youth in the basics of agriculture. The College’s main focus is increasing the skill level of poor rural youth to make them employable. Although India ranks second in the world for farm output and its agriculture and allied fields account for 50 percent of the total workforce in the country, there remains a large percentage of agricultural workers who are unskilled in modern techniques which results in low productivity. Students at the College learn new skills in agriculture and animal husbandry, horticulture and fruit growing, and breeding cattle and sheep.

In addition, the Salesian College Sonada in Darjeeling, affiliated with the North Bengal University in Siliguri, started four new bachelor honor-level courses. The courses are in mass communications, philosophy, geography and finance. The Salesian College provides 1,400 students opportunities for advanced studies and to complete their bachelor’s degrees. The College offers eight general degree courses including English, education, history, political science, sociology, management studies, business administration and computer science.

Build orphanages & shelters for homeless youth

In Bengaluru, the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka and third-most populous city in India with over 8.4 million residents, a Salesian non-governmental organization called Bangalore Oniyavara Seva Coota (BOSCO) has been working with at-risk youth since 1980. The organization serves youth who are living on the streets, child laborers, victims of child abuse and those who are orphaned or abandoned. There are seven BOSCO rehabilitation centers and six outreach hubs spread throughout the city.

Once youth are identified by BOSCO and convinced to come in off the street, they are provided with basic needs such as housing, food and clothing. In addition, they receive counseling and, if appropriate, are reunited back with their families. Education is also a primary component of BOSCO and is provided to those in the rehabilitation program. Those returned to their families have access to Salesian schools throughout India. Youth who continue their education are more likely to find and retain stable employment later in life and break the cycle of poverty.

Empower girls & women through education

Education is the key to equality. This is why Salesian missionaries in India are also focused on achieving gender equality though education and workforce development programs targeted specifically for young women and girls. These programs strive to empower young women and girls by providing opportunities for education and training that lead to livable wage employment.

Salesian programs across India ensure that young girls and women have access to education and the skills training needed to find and retain employment. In one program, women from the slums of Mumbai take part in a Salesian-run 45 day skills training course. The women take courses in basic computing, English, tailoring, garment making, beauty care, hair dressing and mehndi (henna) application. The goal of the training is to help participants become better prepared for employment. The Don Bosco Development Society in Mumbai, which works to empower women in poverty to gain the skills and confidence they need to seek work, facilitates the training. For many of the participants, this is the first time they have received an opportunity for an education (aside from some basic education when they were very young). Salesian missionaries conducting the program model it after Skill India, an initiative by the Government of India’s Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. Through the education and empowerment of women in India, entire families are impacted, which helps end the cycle of severe poverty.

Millions of girls in India face discrimination, exploitation and sexual and physical abuse because of their age and their gender.

At the Don Bosco school in Ravulapalem, an awareness campaign was launched in 2014 by the Salesian-run organization, People’s Action For Rural Awakening (PARA) in response to the growing need for prevention of sexual abuse and trafficking of adolescent girls. As part of the awareness program, PARA conducts workshops in schools and colleges across the two Indian States of Andhra Pradesh and Telengana. The programs are targeted to young girls to help them understand sexuality and learn about the methods sexual predators often use to prey on young girls. Information regarding the laws and policies that protect girls and address their disclosures of abuse will also be shared.

Child marriage is also an issue effecting the equality of women and girls in India. Child marriages are a crisis in many parts of the world where girls are considered second class citizens. Although child marriages are illegal in India, they still occur far too often. In India, families will arrange marriages for their young daughters as a way to make money and alleviate the burden of caring for them. In one single day, upon marriage, the promising future of a girl can be shattered forever. In addition to educating young girls about their rights, social workers from the Don Bosco Childline respond to tips about potential child marriages and work with authorities to take action.

Respond to disasters & emergencies

On December 12, 2016, Tropical Cyclone Vardah, with winds reaching close to 87 miles per hour, made landfall near Chennai, Tamil Nadu, and also affected the neighboring state of Andhra Pradesh. Cyclone Vardah, equal to a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, forced thousands to evacuate and killed 23, according to the National Disaster Management Authority. The cyclone was the most severe storm to hit the area since the 2015 South Indian floods that resulted from heavy rainfall generated by the annual northeast monsoon season, which killed 500 people and left 1.8 million displaced.

Cyclone Vardah flattened homes to the ground, disabled communication lines and brought the local transport system to a halt. Salesian missionaries living and working in Chennai reported that more than 12,000 trees were knocked down as a result of the cyclone in Chennai and its suburbs. Not only were trees uprooted but the winds brought down overhead cable lines and electricity poles. The cyclone damaged more than 7,000 huts and the power infrastructure within Tamil Nadu. The Tamil Nadu government indicated that 7,350 people were shifted to 54 relief camps set up in Chennai, Kanchipuram, Tiruvallur and Villupuram districts.

Salesian missionaries responded to this storm and other severe seasonal flooding each year with relief efforts by providing food, supplies and hygiene kits to local residents while dealing with damage to their own programs.

Respond to refugee needs

Salesian Missions receives funding from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration to conduct its New Beginnings program for Sri Lankan Refugees in Tamil Nadu, India. To date, more than 3,300 refugees have received vocational training scholarships through the program. Since 1983, ethnic violence in Sri Lanka has forced tens of thousands of Sri Lankan Tamils from their homeland in search of safety and a new life in India. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), there are close to 140,000 Sri Lankan refugees in 65 countries, with almost 70,000 in refugee camps in Tamil Nadu.

Since 2010, Salesian Missions has been providing its New Beginnings program for young male and female Sri Lankan refugees who have been living in refugee camps in 15 target districts in India. In 2015, 840 refugees graduated from the New Beginnings program. In addition, 550 women benefited from refugee camp-based small business incubator programs.

Provide youth centers & safe activities

Don Bosco Recreation Center at Don Bosco High School Matunga in Mumbai organized two summer camps held in April and May. The camps had more than 1,600 youth participating in sports and arts activities. Don Bosco institutions across the Mumbai province have been leaders in providing youth with world class sporting and educational facilities and infrastructure to help them hone their skills.

During the two camps, youth took part in sports including football, basketball, advanced and basic gymnastics, cricket, roller skating, lawn tennis, basketball, fencing, judo, abacus and table tennis. Those interested in fine arts had the option to enroll in courses for vedic maths, calligraphy, music, dance, art, speech and drama.

Provide clean, safe water

Water projects funded by a donor through Salesian Missions are providing two villages in India access to clean water through its Clean Water Initiative. The Marathwada region in the state of Maharashtra often suffers from drought-like conditions leaving villagers without water for cooking, drinking and proper sanitation. The funded projects help to desilt wells and canals, repair or replace new water piping, and install new water tanks.

In the village of Kolhewadi in the Ahmednagar district, funding helped pay for digging a new bore well, 20 feet of casing pipe, and the installation of a submersible pump of one and a half HP for the bore well, which includes HDPE pipes, panel boards and a service cable up to the connection point. The project also entailed the installation of a new water tank that holds 5,000 liters of water, and new fencing and plumbing for the water tanks.

In Pimpalgaon Ghat in the Beed district, the project entailed 1,500 meters of new pipe lines as well as fixing current piping, and the installation of a submersible pump of one and a half HP for the bore well, which includes HDPE pipes, panel boards and a service cable up to the connection point. This project also funded a new drinking water tank for the residents of the village.

Deliver life-saving meals

The Salesian-run organization, Don Bosco Navajeevan, located in Hyderabad, the capital of southern India’s Telangana state, received 20,000 rice-meals from a recent meal packing event held by Rise Against Hunger in collaboration with staff from Synopsys India, a leader in global electronics. The donated meals are helping to enhance the educational environment for poor youth and are offered to students during the school day. For some students, the meals they receive at Salesian-run centers are the only meals they have each day. The food aid also serves as an incentive for families to send their children to school and as a result Salesian schools have experienced increased enrollment and students are thriving. Many have gained weight, suffer fewer illnesses and are more focused on their studies. Teachers are noting better student performance in classes as well as less conflict among students.

Don Bosco Navajeevan is a shelter and youth center that places special emphasis on rescuing and rehabilitating children engaged in child labor and offers shelter to child laborers and street children. Once a child arrives at the center, they receive shelter, food and clothing and are then eligible to participate in Salesian programs that focus on education and life skills training. The goal is to help the children break the cycle of poverty and go on to lead productive lives free from abuse and forced labor. Supplementary classes at Don Bosco Navajeevan cater to those who have missed school and have fallen behind academically. This necessary extra assistance enables students to enter back into mainstream schools. The donated rice-meals are used to feed children living at and enrolled in programs at the center.

Deliver essential equipment & supplies

Schneider Electric Foundation is funding five international projects run by Salesian technical and professional schools aimed at sustainable human and social development. Schneider Electric Foundation is the charitable arm of Schneider Electric, a European multinational corporation that specializes in electricity distribution, automation management and the production of installation components for energy management. In Pingull Kudal, funding from this project will update the equipment in the laboratory of the local Professional Training Center to offer students the opportunity to work in more modern facilities.

Thanks to Salesian Missions donors, youth at the Don Bosco Academy of Music and Fine Arts have a new second-hand piano to further their music education. The academy, which is part of the Don Bosco Cultural Center, was founded in 2012 and is located in the Indian state of Kerala. Disadvantaged students can access free musical training through the academy. Currently, there are 100 students being trained in piano, keyboard, violin, guitar, drums, vocals and more.

In addition to regular educational lessons, Salesian missionaries teach music and the arts so youth can be more well-rounded students and learn to nurture their talents. With the addition of the piano students are better able to learn how to play and have time to practice their lessons.

Improve health services

In response to the overwhelming need for HIV/AIDS care in the country, Salesians in southern India opened Don Bosco Care Home in the village of Nilavarapatti located in the district of Salem in Tamil Nadu in August 2011. The home serves as a pilot program that provides treatment and a safe space for young boys that have HIV/AIDS who have been abandoned by their families. At Don Bosco Care Home approximately 60 young boys receive counseling, recreation opportunities, medical observation and critical antiretroviral therapy treatments (ART). Some of the boys live at the home and have access to services and educational programs there while others, including those who attend the local polytechnic college, have access to the program’s ART treatments and then return to their own homes. Don Bosco Care Home was started as an extension of Don Bosco Anbu Illam, which provides shelter, counseling, education and support services to poor youth in the region.

Salesian Missions donors are improving the medical care of children in India. Salesian missionaries care for the sick in nearly 100 clinics and hospitals, located mostly in rural areas, around the globe. The new mobile medical van and medical assistance booths funded help Salesian missionaries address a number of serious and sometimes chronic health concerns faced by youth. For some, this is the only medical care they receive.

Donors have provided funding so that current medical assistance booths operated by Don Bosco Navajeevan Rehabilitation Centers in Hyderabad are able to expand to accommodate care for at least 800 more children each year. The medical booths have already provided medical assistance and intervention to more than 22,000 children to date. This medical intervention includes medical care and check-ups, nutritious meals, specialized care and hospitalization if needed.

In addition, Salesian Missions donors also funded a medical van to drive to remote villages of Iloo Jargo in West Bengal within the New Delhi Salesian Province to treat sick children and family members. The medical van is also used as an ambulance to transport the sick to a hospital that is more than 100 miles away. Malaria, malnutrition and snake bites are prevalent in this underdeveloped region.

Improve infrastructure

Assam Don Bosco University in Guwahati and Assam Agricultural University in Jorhat have been selected by the Indian government as new locations for Atal Incubation Centers under the Atal Innovation Mission of the National Institution for Transforming India, Government of India (Niti Aayog).

Atal Incubation Centers nurture innovative start-up businesses in their pursuit to become scalable and sustainable enterprises. These incubators provide support for physical infrastructure in terms of capital equipment and operating facilities. They also provide support for mentoring the start-ups, business planning support, access to seed capital, industry partners, trainings and other relevant components required for encouraging innovative start-ups. Atal Incubation Centers are being set up in specific areas such as manufacturing, transport, energy, health, education, agriculture, water and sanitation.

In another project, Salesian missionaries in Guwahati, the largest city in the Indian state of Assam, were able to repair the dilapidated church within the St. John Bosco Parish in the village of Boko, thanks to funding from a Salesian Missions donor. The funding allowed Salesian missionaries to update and change part of the roofing, put up a new ceiling, repair damaged windows and doors, and repair the broken floor. The funding also allowed missionaries to paint the entire church.

In another part of India, more than 200 youth have access to a better school environment thanks to Salesian Missions donors. Funding was provided to update eight classrooms at Don Bosco Literacy Center, located in the village of Bualpui in India’s Mizoram state near the Myanmar border. The school’s classrooms consisted of sheds, and it was not a conducive learning environment for students. The new structure, built through donor funding, is providing a structured learning environment for primary school children to focus on literacy and basic school subjects.


From India

From India

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Salesian Missions includes agriculture in its vocational training programs – to ensure that youth of Rwanda learn better agricultural practices as well as keep the school self-sustaining in the face of the country’s food shortages.

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Salesian Missions includes agriculture in its vocational training programs – to ensure that youth of Rwanda learn better agricultural practices as well as keep the school self-sustaining in the face of the country’s food shortages.

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