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India has the world’s fourth largest economy but more than 22 percent of the country lives in poverty. About 31 percent of the world’s multidimensionally poor children live in India, according to a new report by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative. A multidimensionally poor child is one who lacks at least one-third of 10 indicators, grouped into three dimensions of poverty: health, education and standard of living.

India’s youth also face a lack of educational opportunities due to issues of caste, class and gender. Almost 44 percent of the workforce is illiterate and less than 10 percent of the working-age population has completed a secondary education. In addition, many secondary school graduates do not have the knowledge and skills to compete in today’s changing job market.

Child labor continues to be a serious issue in the country with more than 10 million children in the workforce, as reported by aid agencies. 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 through 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. Don Bosco Seva Kendra operates MACS (Mutual Aided Cooperative Societies) Self-Help Groups for women. The goal is to help women become financially self-sufficient and be able to better care for their families. Leelavathi Dandemoori, from the Gujjanagundla village of the Guntur District and whose husband is a laborer, was able to access both training and start-up loans so she could launch her own business.

In another 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.

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 are also shared.

Child marriage is also an issue affecting 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. 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

Salesian programs in India were able to provide additional services to at-risk and marginalized youth thanks to donor funding through Salesian Missions. The funding enabled the Ongole Don Bosco Center in Andhra Pradesh to start a summer camp and Don Bosco Nagar in Hyderabad to provide extra services in its tutoring centers.

The summer camp started by the Ongole Don Bosco Center serves 150 marginalized and at-risk youth. It offers introductory education classes for street children who have never attended school, English language classes—including reading and writing—and basic computer skills. For youth in the program, the classes have increased their confidence in their ability to learn and will serve them well academically once they begin formal education.

At Don Bosco Nagar, donor funding helped support evening tutoring centers that assist poor youth with their homework and provide counseling, recreation facilities and evening meals. The hope is that these centers will reduce the school drop-out rate and help to groom contributing members of society. About 500 children have received assistance through the donor funding.

In addition, Salesian Missions has received funding through a donor’s estate to help with the cost to purchase, transport and repair a second-hand grand piano for the students of Don Bosco Academy of Music, which is a part of the Don Bosco Cultural Center, located in the city of Vennala in the state of Kerala. The Don Bosco Music Academy provides education to more than 50 resident students and close to 110 students from local neighborhoods. Attending students are between 10 to 45 years old and learn various instruments. Of the total students, nearly 40 are learning keyboard, piano, acoustic piano and grand piano.

Provide clean, safe water

Water projects funded by a donor through Salesian Missions are providing two villages in India access to clean water through the 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 newly funded projects will 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.

In addition, Don Bosco Center Rangajan, located in Assam, will be able to construct several restroom facilities providing 50 new toilets and a septic tank, thanks to funding from Salesian Missions donors. Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative” will ensure that those who use the center, mostly poor, indigenous residents from a number of remote villages, will have adequate facilities to use.

At the Don Bosco Center Rangajan Salesian missionaries provide both a high school and a vocational technical training facility. Constructing decent restroom facilities will help improve health and hygiene, and curb the outbreak of diseases.

Another water project is ensuring boys attending the Don Bosco Rehabilitation Center for Street Children at Ramanthapur in Hyderabad, the capital city of southern India’s Telangana state, have improved bathroom facilities thanks to funding from Salesian Missions. The funding, provided through the Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative,” was used for a major renovation of the bathroom facilities at the center. Repairs were made, 10 urinals reconstructed and pipes cleaned.

Don Bosco Navajeevan has four centers in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad where more than 300 children, both boys and girls, are living and gaining an education. The Don Bosco Rehabilitation Center has 150 boys at the facility which provides accommodation, food, medical care and education free of cost. The boys, ages 6 to 16, are all at-risk youth who were street children, child laborers and orphans.

Girls living in a hostel at the Don Bosco Junior College in the town of Diphu, the largest administrative headquarters of the Karbi Anglong district in the state of Assam, also have access to clean water thanks to a new water project funded by the Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative.” In Diphu, piped water is available to only a very few residences.

The Don Bosco Junior College campus, which is 10 kilometers from the town, had been struggling to provide adequate water for washing, drinking, cooking and laundry. Reliance on hired water tankers was proving to be expensive. With funding, Salesian missionaries have been able to drill a successful borewell and offer piped water throughout the building. Piped drinking water is now available from a water purifier as well.

Students attending the Don Bosco College, located in Golaghat, have access to clean fresh water thanks to a recent water project funded by Salesian Missions donors. Don Bosco College provides a vital education and housing for 150 boys and 180 girls. The high demand for water has the college struggling to provide a sufficient supply. Salesian Missions funding enabled Salesian missionaries at Don Bosco College to facilitate a project that included drilling a borewell that provides adequate water for drinking, hygiene, and meeting the basic needs of those attending and working at the college.

Salesian missionaries at Don Bosco Anbu Illam, located in the city of Coimbatore in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, recently completed a new bathroom renovation and improved clean water access thanks to donor funding through the Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative.” The shelter for older boys, between 10 and 17 years old, now has new sewer lines and eight new bathrooms. A bathroom that had been heavily damaged and unusable was repaired. There are 86 boys in the three Don Bosco Anbu Illam centers. In what’s known as the Bosco Block at Ukkadam, which shelters the senior boys and where the renovation was completed, upwards of 50 boys seek shelter and use the new facilities.

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.

A Salesian Missions donor is improving the medical care of children and families in some of the poorest slums in New Delhi, thanks to a donation sent to the Medical Care for the Street and Vulnerable Children in New Delhi project. A recent donation is providing medications for the mobile medical van that visits several poor areas within the city. Most of the children and families seeking care at the Salesian medical van would not otherwise have health care. Having the funding needed to keep a supply of medications for patients is critical for the care and wellness of those Salesian missionaries serve. The mobile medical van, in addition to a medical assistance booth and clinics, enables Salesian missionaries to address a number of serious and sometimes chronic health concerns faced by youth.

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.

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INDIA: Salesian Missions donor provides funding to help mobile medical van in New Delhi

The donation provided the funding for necessary medications for the mobile medical van that is offering critical medical care for poor communities.    NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Oct. 15, 2019) A Salesian Missions donor is improving the m

GLOBAL HANDWASHING DAY: Salesian Missions highlights the importance of clean water access for good health in Salesian programs

Clean water projects in Nigeria and India highlight the work of Salesians around the globe in support of this year’s theme “Clean Hands for All.”   NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Oct. 15, 2019) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development ar

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE GIRL: Salesian Missions highlights programs around the globe that empower girls through education

Programs in Angola, Cambodia, India and Mail illustrate the work of Salesians that support this year’s theme, which is focused on celebrating achievements by, with and for girls. NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Oct. 11, 2019) Salesian Mission

INDIA: Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative” provides clean water for Don Bosco College Golaghat thanks to donor funding

A clean water source is important for students and teachers at the Salesian institution in order for them to access adequate drinking water, proper hygiene and meet basic needs.   NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Oct. 8, 2019) Students attendin

INDIA: Close to 50 youth have new bathroom facilities at Don Bosco Anbu Illam thanks to Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative”

Constructing new bathroom facilities helps improve health and hygiene as well as curb the outbreak of disease. NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Sept. 18, 2019) Salesian missionaries at Don Bosco Anbu Illam, located in the city of Coimbatore in t

INDIA: Don Bosco Vazhikaatti Educational and Charitable Society launches career counseling and job placement services for poor youth thanks to Salesian Missions funding

The Salesian project provided guidance to help youth discover their aptitude and interests, and explore career options for a successful future. NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Sept. 12, 2019) Don Bosco Vazhikaatti Educational and Charitable Soc

INTERNATIONAL LITERACY DAY: Salesian Missions highlights literacy and educational initiatives for poor and at-risk youth

Programs in Brazil, El Salvador, India, and the Solomon Islands illustrate the work of Salesians around the globe who focus on ensuring youth have access to literacy education. NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Sept. 8, 2019) Salesian Missions, t

INDIA: Salesian Missions funds English language course for 65 students at Bosco Gramin Vikas Kendra

The project enabled students to learn the English language and develop leadership skills while helping to build their confidence.    NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Sept. 3, 2019) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians o

INDIA: Salesian Missions donors provide funding for new chapel at Amalarakkini School for the Blind

The new chapel will help in the spiritual formation of the students and staff and also serve the surrounding community. NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Aug. 21, 2019) Salesian Missions has received donor support for the construction of a new ch

WORLD HUMANITARIAN DAY: Salesian Missions highlights humanitarian assistance and transformative programming for poor youth and their families

Programs in Ethiopia, India, Nepal and Syria illustrate the work of Salesians around the globe that support this year’s theme, which is focused on women humanitarians.   NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Aug. 19, 2019) Salesian Missions, the U

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