INDIA: Retreat-Don Bosco has new vehicle thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions
Salesian missionaries are reaching 61 villages.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Sept. 28, 2021) Salesian missionaries with Retreat-Don Bosco, located in Yercaud, Tamil Nadu, India, have a new vehicle thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. Yercaud has a mountainous terrain and the previous vehicle was having mechanical problems every month. It had been overused in the hills during COVID-19 lockdown relief distribution.
A new vehicle was needed to meet the daily needs of seminarians and tribal children. It’s also utilized for pastoral and social ministry in 61 villages, as well as activities at the coaching center, eco club, youth programs and women empowerment programs operated by Retreat-Don Bosco. The Salesian community, including tribal children, women, students of philosophy at the major seminary and the teaching and non-teaching staff, benefited from this donation.
“We appreciate our donors who were able to help ensure that Salesian missionaries at Retreat-Don Bosco had access to the transportation they need to carry out daily activities in support of poor youth,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “In Yercaud and across India, Salesian missionaries are helping to ensure people’s basic needs are met and are providing education and skills training so they can find employment and become self-sufficient.”
Retreat-Don Bosco provides programs for tribal populations from Shevaroy Hills, which has a population of approximately 70,000 people. Tribal populations are among the most exploited and poorest people in the region. They often face a lack of education, health care, poor sanitation, and safe drinking water.
Salesians offer a number of programs including a boarding home for tribal children so they are able to access the school and youth programs. There are also eco clubs to bring ecology education and eco-consciousness among the children in the village. In addition, Retreat-Don Bosco has an organic kitchen garden for the women’s groups. This project has trained 150 women from 61 villages and has helped them have a livelihood.
Retreat-Don Bosco has also been involved in COVID-19 relief work. During the first wave of the virus, Salesians reached out to 1,800 families with dry rations and vegetables, and cooked food was served for 40 days. Livelihood projects were also extended to employ and empower local individuals.
Salesian programs across India are primarily focused on education. Salesian primary and secondary education helps youth prepare for later technical, vocational or university study. Other programs help to support poor youth and their families by meeting the basic needs of shelter, proper nutrition and medical care.
Access to professional training and workforce development services is highly valued by youth in India. The country, which is home to 1.34 billion people (18 percent of the world’s population), will have overtaken China as the world’s most populous country by 2024, according to the World Economic Forum. While India has the world’s largest youth population, it has yet to capitalize on this, leaving some 30 percent of this population without employment, education or training.
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 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.
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