Saturday, November 20, 2010

YOUTH SPEARHEAD VILLAGE DEVELOPMENT

Anto Thomas
MAHARASTHRA, NOVEMBER 20, 2010: Bosco Samajik Vikas Sanstha, Valvande (BSVS) initiated a process for developing perspective plan for the tribal and rural villages across Thane district in Maharashtra. Initially, it is planned to develop perspective plan for ten villages in Jawahr and Mokhada Talukas and later all the villages will be facilitated to develop their perspective plans. In view of that, BSVS started developing the capacities of the tribal youth from the selected villages. From each village, ten to fifteen youth will be selected and trained in village Perspective Development Plan. BSVS facilitators from the selected villages also would be trained along with the village youth. These trained youth, facilitators and BSVS staff would motivate and facilitate the villagers in developing their own perspective plan.

In view of the above, BSVS has started conducting workshops for the village youth and facilitators in perspective development. In each workshop, youth from five villages and their facilitators will be the participants. First such workshop was organized in Valvande from November 16 to November 18, 2010. Duration of the workshop was for three days. Mr. Sebastian Francis from Sadan, Pune and BSVS team members was the resource persons for the workshop. Thirty eight youth from Koshimshet, Bharwarpada and Sambarpada attended the workshop. Social analysis, Classification of issues, Comparative analysis, Response analysis, Context analysis, Identification of strategic issues and Preparation of action plan etc were the topics covered in detail during the workshop.

Youth are highly impressed and motivated on the workshop. They are convinced about the importance of having a perspective plan for their own villages and confident in facilitating the process for developing it. Kashinath Nande from Koshimshet said “I learned about village concept and perspective development. I learnt different methods in developing perspective plan and it is encouraging to do so’. Ravi Bhasra from Bharwarpada expressed that “I learnt about classification of issues and comparative analysis, and I am highly impressed about this method and I got a new vision through this workshop”.

WORKSHOP ON FINANCIAL INCLUSION

Mayuri Rajbonshi Rajbaruah
BORIVILI, NOVEMBER 20, 2010: The workshop on financial inclusion at Bosco Boys Home, Borivili resulted in eighty applications for PAN cards being submitted by the marginalized youth undergoing vocational training at the institution. Of these, sixty applicants received their Pan cards, which will now serve as identity proof while seeking employment in different companies. According to these youth, producing PAN cards to employers have not only helped them prove their identity but have also helped them to obtain job offers.
 
The “Connect All India” network of Don Bosco Research Centre is adhering to its aim of helping out more underprivileged by connecting them to the various instruments of Financial and Social Inclusion.
  
To popularize the concept in rural Maharashtra a meeting was organized at Bosco Yuva Pratisthan, Karjat. Various NGOS working with the rural population participated and were made aware of the different social and financial inclusion instruments like PAN Card, no frills bank accounts, pension plans and so on. A practical demonstration of operations and the correct way of filling up forms was part of this workshop. The importance of financial and social inclusion of the poor and the benefits for the NGOs was clarified during the question answer round. The workshop concluded with a plan for administrative convenience and the sustainability of the model.

Following up with the previous meeting on PAN Card application in Lonavla in the month of October, many villagers from Thakerwadi and Pangloli have applied for PAN cards to gain valid Government identity proof.
Along with collaboration with various nationalized banks, the Centre has also been approached by Corporation Bank of India with a proposal for issuing no frill accounts to the beneficiaries through the use of “Connect All India” network.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

NATIONAL WORKSHOP ON RURAL MARKETING

Anand Raj
MUMBAI, OCTOBER 15, 2010: Don Bosco Action India, the network of the Development Offices, organized a two-day Capacity Building Workshop on 13th and 14th October, at Don Bosco Provincial House, Mumbai. The theme for the workshop was Rural Marketing, and 20 participants from the various development offices attended this workshop. Setting the premise of the workshop, Fr. Savio Silveira, National Convener of DB Action India, welcomed all the participants and spoke about the importance of right attitudes in the field of development work.
  
The aim of the workshop was to equip the participants with the necessary ideas and tools to introduce the concept of structured marketing and innovative strategies in their respective programmes. Dr. Mala Shrivastava, professor and marketing consultant, (NMIMS University), facilitated the first session; she presented an overview of the concept of Marketing and then explained the existing rural market environment in the country. In the pre-lunch session, she enlightened the participants on the concept of consumer behaviour and the factors affecting it. The session focussed on several important areas such as Targeting, Segmentation, Positioning, and Approaches to Rural Segmentation.
 
Mr. Niranjan Amte, marketing head and consultant with Future Group, facilitated the post-lunch session on Rural Market Research and Distribution Strategy. This session involved many discussions and exchanges of ideas. During his presentation, Mr. Amte shared several examples and experiences from the industry. The second day focussed on market linkages, communication strategies, and innovation in rural markets. In this session, Dr. Mala also discussed the major findings of recent researches on rural marketing. The last session looked at the Scope, Opportunities and Challenges in Rural Marketing.
 
Closing the programme, Fr. Savio Silveira thanked all the participants for their active participation and the DB Action Team for coordinating the workshop successfully. The workshop concluded on an enthusiastic note with the participants expressing their desire to apply these concepts in their programmes.

Monday, October 11, 2010

INTERFACE MEETING AT ANAND - GUJARAT

GUJARAT, OCTOBER 11, 2010: On October 7, 2010 at 11’o clock, approximately twenty-four railway personnel assembled to attend a meeting at Anand (Gujarat) railway station in the waiting room on platform number five. This meeting was organized by Don Bosco Snehalaya. To begin, all were invited to join in the prayer bhajan -Tumi Ho Mata, Pita Tumi Ho. The aim of this meeting was to sensitize railway personnel about the grim conditions and sad realities of street life and to get in touch with one of our caring communities – the railway personnel (TCs, railway staff and railway workers) to make them aware of these children’s difficulties, to treat the children with respect and dignity, to understand them better and also to enter into a good working relationship with the railway personnel, who are an important contact group for our marginalized boys.


The Director heartily welcomed the participants for the meeting and he introduced the institution and staff to those who were present. Mr. Francis Dodia our outreach coordinator requested the participants to introduce themselves to each other and afterwards he asked them to share their experiences with street children whenever they came across them on the railway stations or in the trains. Mr. Waghela (Station Supritendent) and Mr.Mathur (CMI) shared their experience. They told us that as soon as a vagrant child is found on the railway platforms the immediate action taken by them is to hand over the case to the RPF who will later contact some NGO. After the sharing was over the Director took over with a power point presentation on Snehalya and Child care and protection. In the PowerPoint Presentation the work of the institution was well explained. The staff also shared their experiences with platform boys. At the end our Outreach Coordinator thanked the entire group of participants for dedicating special time for this meeting.
          
The participants were happy to have this meeting and to give whatever help was required to Don Bosco Snehalaya in its work with railway platform and street children. By the help of this meeting they came to know many things about child care and protection and became aware of the work carried out by Snehalaya in Vadodara. At the start, the participants seemed a little apprehensive about the programme but they soon got interested and we dare say, it turned out to be a very fruitful interface meeting. Snacks and tea were arranged to conclude the meeting.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

JAWHAR SUICIDES

Savio Silveira sdb
MUMBAI, SEPTEMBER 22, 2010: Since the past two years, the Development Office has been advocating that we should use the Rights Based Approach in our developmental programmes. In this context, a question that I am often asked is: What exactly is the Rights Based Approach to development?
 
Today’s Hindustan Times (Mumbai edition) has carried three articles, including one on the front page, of Sitaram Pandu Gavanda, who committed suicide on 15th September, in Chondipada village of Jawhar taluka, Thane district. Desperate poverty drove Sitaram to this step. According to one of the reports, twenty-four tribals, mostly farmers, have committed suicide in Jawhar taluka since January 2010.
   
The most common reason for poverty in this, and most rural areas, is lack of employment. To address this problem, the government passed the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in 2005. Unfortunately, even five years later, most rural people are unable to draw benefit from this Act. Kailash Jadhav, Additional Collector in charge of the Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS) in Jawhar, admitted that the EGS has been non-functional in the taluka for the past 18 months. “If the EGS had worked, Sitaram Gavanda could have been saved,” said Ramchandra Navsu Barph, the local police patil.

Inability to access food grains is another huge issue in rural areas. The above mentioned news reports point out that the Public Distribution System (PDS) is in tatters in Jawhar. In Sitaram’s village Chondipada, for instance, only 20 of the 270 families have ration cards, which means the others cannot access food grains through the PDS. Again, 169 families in this village fall under the Below Poverty Line (BPL) category. Hence, these families are entitled to more grain at less price; but since they do not have a ration card they cannot avail of this benefit.

The immediate reason that pushed Sitaram to commit suicide was sickness in the family. He was suffering from TB and his ten year old son Nilesh was down with fever. The day before he committed suicide, Sitaram asked his wife Kamal to take Nilesh to the hospital for which he gave her Rs 100. “That was all he had. He told me he had to choose between Nilesh and himself,” Kamal said.

Sitaram was entitled to employment, but was unable to access work that would have brought him an income because the EGS has not been functioning in the taluka since the past 18 months. He was entitled to low cost food grains, but could not feed his family since the PDS there had collapsed. He was entitled to free medical services, but could not avail of the same since this service too has collapsed. Sitaram was entitled to live, but he was forced to kill himself since he could not access any of those entitlements that would have enabled him to stay alive.

The Rights Based Approach is about enabling people like Sitaram access their entitlements. It is about helping people like Sitaram live.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

EDUCATION AND RIGHTS - KAWANT

Lyra Pinto
KAWANT, AUGUST 31, 2010: Twenty-nine development staff from across Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh met at DISHA Development Centre (Don Bosco Kawant) for a training session on the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan (SSA) and the newly-enacted Right to Education (RTE). The centres represented were Kawant, Chhota Udepur, Kapadvanj, Alirajpur and Jhabua.

The aim of the session was to gain an understanding of the provisions of the SSA and RTE, and to learn how to enable people in the villages to secure their right to education under these programmes. The first resource person for the day was Ms. Rita Bhatt, the Director of the NGO ‘Abhiyaan’ (Baroda). She stressed on the need for development workers to secure people’s participation to ensure the success of community-based programmes. She also explained that the SSA does not confine itself to mainstream students but also has provisions for children with special needs. The challenge is to secure the correct enforcement of these provisions despite government apathy.

The second resource person was Mr. Ramanbhai Rathwa, the head of the SSA Block Resource Centre of Kawant taluka. He explained the structure of the SSA implementation system, and also the roles of people’s committees such as the Village Education Committee. The staff understood that a significant amount of money is sanctioned by the government for educational facilities; however, the quality of education remains low.

The program gave the participants the chance to understand two different points of view—that of the government and of an independent NGO—on the functioning of the education system. The staff from all the centres thanked Fr. Gergory Almeida and the development team at DISHA Kawant for organizing this program.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

SECURING THE RIGHT TO FOOD


Surekha Pednekar
MUMBAI, AUGUST 21, 2010: Many of the residents of Garib Niwas Nagar had reason to celebrate on Saturday, August 21, 2010 as their long cherished dream of owning a Ration Card, became a reality. Being pavement dwellers, with no proof of residence, securing a ration card was no simple task. After almost six months of struggle, the Development Office was able to secure this facility for 41 families. These cards were distributed to the respective families at a simple function, held at Provincial House, Matunga.

The Chief Guest for the function was Fr Ajoy Fernandes, Vice Provincial, and the Guest of Honour was Mr Gajbhiye, Ration Inspector. Addressing the gathering, Fr Ajoy Fernandes complimented the Development Office for securing the ration cards for these disadvantaged and needy people. He further pointed out that this card would not only enable the people to access grain and other commodities through the public distribution system, but it would also serve as a proof of identity for them. Speaking next, Mr Gajbhiye explained that most government offices were understaffed and the officials were overburdened with responsibilities, hence they were often unable to reach out to those who needed public services the most. He said it was good that NGOs like Don Bosco had come forward to assist underprivileged communities to benefit from urban public services. He expressed his confidence that this partnership between government agencies and non governmental organizations would help poor urban communities to draw substantial benefit from government services and schemes.
Garib Niwas Nagar is a community of pavement dwellers in the vicinity of Don Bosco, Matunga, made up of about 300 households. While some of these pavement dwellers are daily wage labourers, most of the others earn a living by collecting and selling garbage. The Development Office has been working in Garib Niwas Nagar since the past one year. Enabling the people here to secure their right to food is the first project that has been taken with this community.

Friday, July 30, 2010

PROMOTING RIGHT TO EDUCATION

Ranald Lopes sdb

CHHOTA UDEPUR, July 28, 2010: While enacting the Right to Education law may have been relatively easy for the Indian Government, ensuring that every Indian Child, and especially children in remote villages, can actually benefit from this law is going to be a mammoth task. It is an interesting coincidence that as the RTE comes into force, the ‘Governance Project’ being implemented by several Don Bosco centres in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh enters into Year 2, and the thrust for this year is enabling people to secure the proper implementation of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) in their villages.

Against this backdrop, Lok Seva Kendra, Chhota Udepur organized a training workshop on Wednesday, 28th July, which was attended by 94 Village and SHG leaders from 20 villages. The programme began with Fr. Ranald Lopes explaining the role that LSK planned to play to secure the proper implementation of the RTE and SSA in the Chhota Udepur villages. Mr. Prakash Ahire then introduced the resource persons for the occasion, Ms. Gangaben Rathwa (Taluka Kelwani Nirikhsak) and Mr. Makarani (SSA Resource Centre Coordinator).

Ms. Gangaben Rathwa enlightened the participants on various issues such as the importance of the birth certificate, the government’s educational system, administrative procedures, schemes available for women and children, etc. She also stressed the role and responsibility of the parents in ensuring the education of their children.

Mr. Makarani then made a detailed presentation on the RTE and SSA. He further pointed out that while these may be excellent laws and schemes, their proper implementation will not happen unless they are monitored by the local people. Hence, the SSA had put in place a body called the Village Education Committee (VEC) that is responsible for education at the village level. The RTE Act has now made it compulsory that every school should have a School Management Committee (SMC) that is responsible for the monitoring and development of the local school. Seventy five percent members of the SMC should be parents or guardians of the children, while the other twenty five percent is to be made up of teachers and local authority members. This body is expected to play a critical role in furthering education in the villages.

Finally, a film on the SSA was screened, after which Fr. James Tuscano proposed the vote of thanks.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

ANNUAL MEETING OF DIRECTORS

Ashley Miranda
MUMBAI, JULY 2, 2010: The Annual General Body Meeting of the Directors of the various Don Bosco centres in Western India was held on 30th June and 1st July 2010. While the first day of the meeting was dedicated to a variety of business issues, the second day was dedicated to inputs and reflection on the ‘Rights Based Approach to Development’. The resource person for these sessions was Dr. Yogesh Kumar, Director of the NGO Samarthan from Bhopal. The session began with a short video clip in Hindi presenting a very meaningful reflection in song on the right to work, the sad reality of unemployment and the dignity that work brings.

At the very start of his presentation Dr. Yogesh pointed out that poverty whatever its form or shade, whether in rural or urban areas has the same pain. The temptation that we need to resist though is to reach out to those who are marginalized or underprivileged in various ways with Band-aid Solutions focusing on welfare. To bring about real change we need to focus on ‘direct democracy’ and ‘citizenship’. It is only by building capacities and by helping people look at themselves as citizens who can demand their rights and entitlements can we bring about change that will benefit all and will last. Speaking about the Gram Sabhas, Dr. Yogesh said that we need to get people interested in its functioning because it represents the collective strength of the people. In order to do so, however, we need to strengthen the functioning of various interests groups that go to make up the Gram Sabha. Foremost among these groups are the women’s’ groups, the SHGs, PTAs, youth groups etc.

Dr. Yogesh then went on to speak of the importance of ‘community monitoring’ in all development projects. A culture of transparency and accountability fostered through the setting up of vigilance committees and through well conducted social audits contributes a great deal to building up the collective strength of the people. He cautioned those present that the goal of audits and committees should never be to victimize anybody. Those who are part of the administrative machinery may have their shortcomings but it is no point antagonizing them. Besides not all are corrupt; there are many who are actually sincerely interested in the good of the people. We therefore need to create the right environment where the officials can perform their duties and the people can access their rights.

Friday, June 25, 2010

DEVELOPING AGRICULTURE IN ALIRAJPUR

Kamlesh Dodia
ALIRAJPUR, JUNE 25, 2010: The monsoon season may have arrived, but that does not bring much cheer to the farmers in Alirajpur (Madhya Pradesh). Although agriculture is the primary occupation of the people here, it is not a source of much income. The undulating terrain, scanty top soil and insufficient rain, lead to poor agricultural outputs. Besides this, the crops that are grown are largely for home consumption. Hence, this subsistence agriculture practiced by the tribal villagers, has done very little to improve their economic condition.

In order to make a dent in this gloomy scenario, Don Bosco Alirajpur Shaishanik Samajik Kendra has recently launched an Agricultural Project on a pilot basis. The idea is to experiment with some new crops and also innovative methods of agriculture that would help the farmers get better returns from their fields. Based on the learnings of the pilot phase, the project will then be scaled up in the following years.
The first crop that we are presently experimenting with is ginger. A group of 20 farmers from 10 different villages was selected to pilot the ginger experiment. Mr. Chandarsinh Bhagat, a local expert, gave this group systematic training in ginger cultivation. He conducted practical sessions at his wadi and also provided the ginger shoots to the farmers. Over the past ten days, under the personal supervision of the Development staff, the selected farmers have grown the ginger in the plots prepared for this cultivation. All the necessary care is now being taken to ensure that it grows well.

The other plans in this project include horticulture development, vegetable plantation, and eventually also the System of Rice Intensification (SRI). All these possibilities are being explored keeping in mind the soil and climatic conditions of the region. The initial response of the farmers has been enthusiastic. We are hoping to have some good results so that many more farmers can then benefit from this project.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

NREGS DEMANDS SUBMITTED TO DISTRICT COLLECTOR

Mayank Parmar sdb
GUJARAT, JUNE 15, 2010: Don Bosco Kapadvanj organized a protest gathering in front of the District Collector’s Office on 14th June, 2010. About 30 village leaders along with the staff of Don Bosco took part in this day long hunger strike to highlight the irregularities in payments to NREGS workers.
The preceding month had been spent preparing for this event. Ever since the NREGS work has started in the villages, people have had many complaints regarding the payments: often they are underpaid, the payments are regularly delayed, and in some cases no payments have been made for work done several months ago. Although the NREGA stipulates that payments should be made every fifteen days, there is not a single instance in the Kapadvanj Taluka where this has actually happened. Don Bosco, along with the village people, has been trying to resolve this problem for many months, but failed to receive the necessary cooperation from the taluka officials. Hence, it was decided to hold this protest. Data from several villages in the taluka was gathered regarding this problem, and a memorandum to the Collector was prepared.
At around 12.30 noon, Fr. Mayank Parmar and a group of village representatives met the Collector and placed their demands before him. The key demands were: payments should be done in 15 days; compensation should be given for the delayed payments; payment rates should be increased; taluka and village panchayat officials should involve the local people in the scheme so as to improve its implementation.
The Kheda District Collector promised to look into the matter immediately. He also said that he would forward these demands to the District Rural Development Authority (DRDA) and the State NREGS authorities. He was appreciative of the role being played by Don Bosco in securing the proper implementation of the NREGS in the Kapadvanj taluka.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

STATE LEVEL CONSULTATION ON INTERNATIONAL ANTI CHILD LABOUR DAY

Godfrey D’Sa sdb
MUMBAI, JUNE 13, 2010: Balprafulta, a Don Bosco Child Rights Organization, along with Holistic Child Development of India (HCDI), Campaign against Child Labour (CACL) and CARE (Mahrashtra), on the occasion of the International Anti Child Labour Day, organized a State Level Consultation on June 11 and 12, 2010, with participants from both Government and Non-Government Organizations. For quite some time now, those working in the area of Child Labour felt that an upsurge had to be created in Maharashtra to curb the exploitation of children in the labour market. Hence Balprafulta, celebrating its Tenth Anniversary, took the initiative to bring about a convergence of various stakeholders and move towards preparing a Vision Document for the eradication of Child Labour in Maharashtra.

From Government Organizations those who participated in the Consultation were DCP Sheela Sail (Mumbai Crime Branch) and DYSP Mr. Ghondhe (Maharashtra) of the Home Department, Mr. Illwe (Director of Labour Cell) and Mr. Shailendra Pol (Asst. Labour Commissioner) from the Labour Department, Ms. Jayant Pavnikar from the Department of Women and Child Welfare, Mr. Suryakant Kulkarni and Ms. Farida Lambe from the State Child Rights Commission, Dr. Mane from the Mumbai University Law Department, Ms Neelam Gorhe, MLA and Shiv Sena spokesperson, and Mr. Waidande from YASHADA. Also present were representatives from UNICEF, CRY, Childline India Foundation, Saathi, Pratham, CCVC, YUVA, Td.H, FACSE, Shikshan Haq Abhiyan (Western Maharashtra), Nari Probadhan Manch (Latur), Apulki (Jalgoan), Apeksha (Amravati), ARC (Pune) and others. In all over hundred people enthusiastically participated in the two-day proceedings that centered on finding new ways to make the Government focus on the issue of Child Labour and at the same time create a groundswell to make people more aware of this malaise in our society.

Some highlights of the Consultation were:

- Enforce the implementation of the J.J. Act (2000) along with the Amendments (2006) and entirely scrap off the Child Labour Regulation and Prohibition Act of 1986.

- Using the J.J. Act as central, amalgamate all other child related laws and create a new Child Protection Act.

- Transfer the responsibility for children (everyone below the age of eighteen) from the Labour Department to the Department for Women and Child Welfare and work towards strengthening this Department.

- Presently the entire process of Re-Integration of children after rescue is weak. Work towards building a comprehensive plan which will support the re-integration of children into mainstream society.

- Use the provisions allowed in the Children’s Act and insist on creating Children’s Courts. This will enable fast track prosecution as well as create greater sensitivity towards vulnerable children.

- Right across all Departments of the State, it must be unanimously accepted that a child is anyone who has not completed eighteen years of age.

- Scrap the term “Child Labour” and instead use a more inclusive term “Working Child”.

- To create groundswell and increase awareness, focus on sustained advocacy by regularly raising questions on children in the Assembly, insisting on budgetary provisions for children and writing in the newspapers about the plight of working children.

A spark has been ignited and Balprafulta along with many others wish that this spark turns not only into a flame, but grows into a fire that will purge away the exploitation our children suffer under the hands of unscrupulous employers. A unanimous cry from all the participants was to work towards making Maharashtra a ‘Child Labour Free State.’

Saturday, June 12, 2010

WOMENS SELF HELP GROUP IN KAPADVANJ

Parmar Mayank sdb
KAPADVANJ, JUNE 12, 2010: Ekta self help group of Navapura, Kapdavanj Taluka organized a women get together with fellowship meal on June 10, 2010. This celebration was called in collaboration with other four groups who were completing their three years of existence. Originally it was planned to have the get together in Navapura but due to heavy rains and cyclone it was shifted to Don Bosco, Kapadvanj. Jagriti group of Alampura, Roshni group of Nazamiya, Umang SHG of Nava Muvada, Ekta SHG of Bapuji Na Muvada, and Disha SHG of Sonipura were a part of the get together.

More than sixty five women were a part of this celebration. Fr. Ivan the Rector of the house welcomed the gatherings at Don Bosco and told them that he was happy to host this function for the betterment of women.

Mr. Manibhai D. Patel M.L.A. of Kapadvanj taluka was the chief guest for the day. Women themselves called him so that they could share their problems with him. Expressing their opinion the women presented a memorandum stating their problems related to water and road facility in their Muvadas. Mr. Patel told that it was for the first time that he saw women coming up on stage and giving a speech in Kapadvanj taluka. He said that he would consider their application and assured them to do the needful.

Fr. Mayank in his speech told them to go beyond SHGs and get involved in social activities and addressed them at Gramsabha level and even ahead. It was nice to see women remembering the previous director of DRISTI Fr. Gregory and the staff for helping them form these SHGs. As an act of gratitude women presented a token of appreciation to the director of DRISTI and to their animator. Women voiced out saying that we are happy to be part of Don Bosco Self Help Group.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A NEW LOOK AT EDUCATION


Gregory Almeida sdb
KAWANT, MAY 18, 2010: For a long time, we have been wondering why Kawant taluka has remained underdeveloped despite Don Bosco being present in this area for more than 25 years. We have now realized that there are two main factors that need to be addressed to bring about development:

1. A change of leadership
2. Practical exposure in education

A change of leadership is possible only if youngsters are trained to become sarpanchs, talatis, mamlatdars or work for government organizations that will transform the villages.

Second, education must include practical exposure. Students in schools and colleges should be taken to the villages to understand why development is not taking place and how they can help solve this problem. Perhaps there are government schemes that should be made to work; maybe they can educate their parents on these matters. Exposing children to the realities of village life will make their education more relevant.

To achieve this aim, Kawant Education Society organized a training-cum-exposure programme to enable children to understand and solve the issues in their own villages. On May 6, 2010, the standard Ten students of Don Bosco, Kawant attended a one-day workshop on the provisions of the NREGA. The next day, May 7, 2010, they returned to their villages to document the progress of the NREGA works, explain the Act to their parents and other workers, and interact with village functionaries regarding the implementation of the NREGA.

The students identified the problems related to the NREGA and also checked documents such as the job cards of workers. They learned that some government functionaries can be helpful while many others resent anyone checking or questioning their work. The entire exercise was also an opportunity for parents to learn something from their children and to understand the benefits of practical education.

Kawant Education Society firmly believes that students should be exposed to all the issues in rural areas, so that they can help their own people in their villages. Many schemes do not work because of lack of awareness and information. Creating awareness is the first step towards change in the rural areas. Let’s HOPE and begin the change from the bottom.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

GRAMSABHA AT INDARSINH KI CHOKI

Kamlesh Dodia
ALIRAJPUR, MAY 6, 2010: There was a special gramsabha held at Indarsinh ki Choki to commemorate the hundred and ninetieth birthday of Dr. Bhimrav Ambedkar on April 14, 2010. A hundred and one villagers along with Nodal officer Mr. Sisodiya, Cluster Resource Coordinator Mr. Vincent, a renowned sanyasi turned Sarpanch Mr. Chandarsinh Bhagat, Dt. Sarpanch Mr. Lalusinh, Panchayat Secretary Mr. Joharsinh, Mr. Kamlesh and Mr. Irshad from Don Bosco marked the day with their esteemed presence.

The Gramsabha was tactfully organized early in the morning for two reasons. The first one was to keep the villagers away from drinking ‘toddy’ or ‘mahuva’ (country liquor) and another one was to allow them to go to collect ‘mahuva’ in the afternoon as it was their livelihood. The strategy worked well and it turned out to be one of the best gramsabhas ever had in this village as the villagers unanimously approved all past resolutions. They also commonly agreed to all proposals made for overall growth and development of their village. They had a common consent to build a panchayat building, a school building, community hall and other development works such as shelf of project of NREGS, building RCC road etc.

Nodal officer Mr. Sisodiya appealed to the villagers to support their young and enthusiastic Sarpanch who has a dream to make his village one of the model villages in the entire district of Alirajpur. Cluster Coordinator, Mr. Vincent explained them about right to education and urged them to send their children regularly to school. Mr. Irshad Ahmed humorously showed them ways of killing two birds by throwing one stone in their own dialect namely earning their livelihood and creating local assets in their village by taking advantage of MGNREGS.
Mr. Kamlesh from Don Bosco ended his short speech encouraging them to increase the number of women present in gramsabha as no development work was ever possible without their presence.

Last but not least, the Sarpanch Mr. Chandarsinh thanked everyone for their support and cooperation and promised them to do his best to fulfill his awaiting dream.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

PLANNING MEETING FOR SKILLS PROJECT

Manish Parmar
MATUNGA, APRIL 20, 2010: A meeting was held at Don Bosco Provincial House, Matunga on 19th April 2010 to finalize details of the Skill Development Programme that is being promoted by DB Tech India. This project, which aims at training and placing in employment 50,000 youth across India in the next two years, is being funded by the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD). The objective of the project is to enable rural youth, living below the poverty line, secure a job and thus improve the economic conditions of their family.


The meeting began with Fr Michael Fernandes, Provincial, addressing the participants who had come from the three states of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. He complimented DB Tech India for taking up this project and for the efforts they had put in to ensure its successful implementation. He called on the Salesians of the province to make a wholehearted commitment to this project, since through this project we would be serving the truly poor and marginalized youth. He reminded the participants that the province had both, the facilities and the expertise to take this project forward; all we now need is the determination to make the project work.

Fr Joseph Aikarchalil, National Director for DB Tech India, then gave the participants a detailed overview of the project. He explained the different stages of the project – mobilization, training and placement – the methodology of implementation, and the monitoring and reporting systems. He not only clarified the doubts raised by the participants, but he also assured them that the DB Tech national office would be available throughout the implementation of the project to assist the centres with any difficulty they faced. Before the meeting concluded, the participants met in state-wise groups to work out practical details concerning the project.

NREGS Job Card Distribution Camp At Kapadvanj


KAPADVANJ, APRIL 8, 2010: All through the past year, Dristi Don Bosco has been consistently working at enabling rural households in the Kapadvan taluka draw maximum benefit from the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS). One of the villages that we have been focusing our attention on is Chapatya, belonging to Jagadupur panchayat. The people of this village had tried several times to get their Job Cards, but all their efforts were in vain. Even the written applications that they had submitted to the village and taluka panchayat offices had yielded not fruit.

However, all this changed on 7th April 2010, when Dristi Don Bosco organized a Job Card Distribution Camp in this village. Through the combined efforts of our staff and the villagers, the government officials were pressurized into issuing Job Cards to 54 households in this village. What made the event special was that the Talati, Sarpanch and all concerned government officials were present at the Camp to extend their service to the people. ‘Be the peoples’ servant before being a government servant’, was the underlying message of the day. This event has empowered the people to now take up other issues with the government.

Monday, April 19, 2010

WOMENS DAY WITH A DIFFERENCE AT DON BOSCO KAWANT

KAWANT, APRIL 19, 2010: Kawant was once upon a time known for its cultural heritage and beauty, but as time passes, one can see the changes that are taking place in their life style and culture. The sight at Holi (Gher) was an eye opener. People from all walks of life would come on Gher day, to see the beautiful adivasi cultural dances in the town. But this year, the sight was disappointing. Only two or three groups were seen in the town giving their best shots. The community of Don Bosco, Kawant decided to revive the adivasi culture by inviting the different dancing groups of Kawant taluka on April 14, 2010, a day marked for Dr. Ambedkar Jayanti and Women’s day.

The day began with the fete games organized by the scouts of Don Bosco followed by the cultural dances from four different groups of Umti, Nakhal, Raisingpura and Vazepur. Each group was given Twenty minutes to perform on the stage and the winner was the group from Raisingpura. Rathwa women’s group from Kawant performed a skit on the role and importance of Gram Sabha in the villages. Many women realised that the key to the development in the village is through attendance and raising ones voice in the Gram Sabha. The chief guest Mrs. Kiran Lohani spoke on how to revive the adivasi culture, women being the best to bring this change. Fr. Byron, too spoke on the importance of Adivasi culture. He said that one should not feel shy or feel small in acknowledging ones culture. Adivasi culture is rich and well recognized all over the world. All cultures are equal in the eyes of God. A turn out of Three hundred and Ninety Two people was seen for the day. Special prizes were given to all the groups by the chief guest.

Monday, March 22, 2010

BGVK BAL MELAVA

Rosario Vaz sdb, Bento D’Souza sdb
AHMEDNAGAR, MARCH 22, 2010: “India lives in its villages,” these words of Nehru proved to be truly prophetic on Sunday, March 21, 2010. 254 children from 13 villages around BGVK performed beyond all expectations and came up with an energy packed Dances and Radio Arts (songs, skits, plays, drama, speeches, jokes, mimicry and talks).

“This did not happen by chance but by dint of a year of hard regular, singleminded, persistent team work,” said Fr. Rosario Vaz, the man behind the scene. “In the beginning, there were a lot of difficulties to hold evening studies in the villages, the girl-children were not allowed to come as they had to attend to household work, funds were not available, distances were too much for children to walk for the evening classes and return late at night. Educating the village child is difficult because of their mindset. Why do girls need to study if they are to be given in marriage? This is a question most often in parents’ minds. Looking at the melava it was encouraging for the organizers and for the children themselves to realize that the sky is the limit. It brought out the best in them in terms of hidden talent and skills. Their performances made them see themselves as productive members of society. Gratitude goes to the Fr. Edwin D’Souza, Rector of the Shrine, Matunga for sponsoring the event.”

The whole program began with a prayer recited by a child and a speech by Fr. Alex Gonsalves. The Director of CSRD, Dr. Suresh Pathare was the Chief Guest. An entire galaxy of dances was performed with gusto and verve. On stage, they were transformed into dancing queens, princesses and ballerinas. In all, 89 participants performed on stage in a total of 25 items. At the start of the music as if touched by magic, decked in beautiful ornamented costumes they danced with josh, pomp and timing making it an event difficult to forget. The children needed no supervision during the event and the discipline was praiseworthy.
After lunch, a few dances still carried on. The children prepared the dances and performed without any adult help. All received prizes. Each one left with a T- shirt and token prizes. With the BGVK idols shining, the future of India is bright. BGVK, the premier institution that takes care of the grassroots has arrived at a point of focus, caring for the education of the future generation. Truly, the villages are lovely, dark and deep and there are promises to keep, and miles to walk before we sleep, but for now it is, “Bravo BGVKan Idols!!!”

MELA FOR VILLAGE CHILDREN AT NARUKOT

Kamlesh Dodia
NARUKOT, MARCH 22, 2010: The campus of Don Bosco, Narukot was vibrant and vivacious from dawn to dusk on March 14, 2010, when nearly five hundred children from 28 villages had a march past of sorts with their tutors. The Balmela organized by Narukot Education Society under Village Education Project managed by Fr. Brian and Coordinator Ms. Bharti saw these children enjoying themselves singing songs, dancing ‘timli’ and having scrumptious food generously served by the students of the technical institute. Innovative and children friendly games put up in well organized stalls by the boarders trapped the attention of the children where they had a chance to win a variety of prizes.

A splendid cultural show prepared by the little children and students of both school and technical followed. It was marked by the esteemed presence of the chief guests Rev. Frs. Richard and Byron sdb, sarpanchs of nearby villages and other invited guests. Fr. Byron in his speech stressed on three important things: positive thoughts, hard work and honesty.
Fr. Brian in his thanks giving speech took a note of meticulous efforts of Frs. Stanny, Bros. Damodar, Ajay, Ruban, Justus, Romero and other staff members for organizing this magnificent ‘mela’.

BOSCO SAMAJIK VIKAS SANSTHA CELEBRATE WOMEN’S DAY

WALVANDA, MARCH 17, 2010: World women’s day was celebrated with much pomp at the Walvanda Centre, Jawhar block on March 10, 2010. The theme of the programme was to give “equality of right, equal opportunity to every one”. The purpose of organizing such a program was to encourage women to come forward and bring togetherness for the sustainable development of women through mobilization of women. Around 500 women participated in the event with enthusiasm.

The programme started with the welcoming of women and the chief guest Mr. M.D.Gangurde the Tahsildar of Jawhar and offering garlands to Savitribai Phule by Fr. Anaclate with other guest. The introductory address was delivered by Mr. Sanjay Shinde wherein he shared the history of celebrating women’s day and the background of the organization.
M. D. Gangurde addressed the women on women development schemes. He mainly focused on schemes and their benefits which women should avail at the village level. An action song followed in which the women took part whole heartedly. Dr. Kshirsagar focused on poverty and its linkages to women’s underdevelopment. He spoke about general problems faced by women and how it affects the development process through various live examples. He also talked about importance of self help groups. Dr. Aruna Patil talked about Women’s health and their problems.

Fr. Anaclete addressed the women and mentioned that he was happy to see a large gathering. He added that the organization is ready to support and enhance the skills of women through various training programmes.

A memorable cultural programme followed. The vote of thanks was proposed by Mr. Melvin Pangya.

ALIRAJPUR CELEBRATES WOMEN'S DAY

Dominic Martis sdb

ALIRAJPUR, MARCH 20, 2010:
March 13, 2010 was an important day for the adivasi women of Alirajpur, who came together for their very first Women’s Day celebration at Alirajpur Shaikshanik Samajik Kendra (ASSK). About 130 women from the villages around Alirajpur attended the celebration.

The festivities began with the women welcoming the special guest, Ms. Shobna Omkar (President of the Women’s Congress, Alirajpur), as well as the oldest and youngest members in the gathering. After this, the entire crowd proceeded to the hall for the lighting of the lamp and the Chief Guest’s address. The programme continued with groups from various villages performing songs in their traditional style. Later in the day, the SDM of Alirajpur District, Ms. Jamuna Bhinde, also joined the celebration.

The highlight of the programme was the inspiring speech given by Kavliben from Bhedwa village, who spoke about the power of collective action by women, the strength and capabilities of rural people and her own pride in being an adivasi woman.

The programme concluded with dancing, singing and gifts for all the participants. For the women of Alirajpur as well as the staff of ASSK, the event underlined the importance of building the strength of the community, and especially of the women.

Monday, March 15, 2010

WOMEN’S DAY CELEBRATION AT DHARAVI

Surekha Pednekar
MUMBAI, MARCH 15, 2010: It was an afternoon packed with great energy and good cheer as Women’s Day was celebrated in Dharavi on Saturday, March 13, 2010. This event, organized by Don Bosco Development Society (DBDS), witnessed the turnout of over 1200 women from different slum communities in Mumbai. Besides the women from the Self Help Groups promoted by DBDS in Dharavi, there were women from Matunga, Mahim, Wadala, Sewri, Kurla, Santacruz, Andheri and Jogeswhari.

The programme got underway with a prayer song and dance, after which the lamp was lit by the dignitaries on the stage. These guests of honour included Ms. Jamila Begum from Yuva; Ms. Varsha Parchure from Apnalaya; Mr. Robin Thomas from Tata Trent; Mr. Savrimuthu, General Manager of Indian Bank; Fr. Edwin D’Souza, Rector of Provincial House; and Fr. Elson Barretto, Director of DBDS. Other senior officials from the Mumbai Municipal Corporation were also present on the dais.

The afternoon saw a good mix of speeches by the dignitaries and cultural items by the women. While Ms. Jamila Begum and Ms. Varsha Parchure spoke on the theme of water, Mr. Robin Thomas focused on the issue of plastic bags and the environmental problems they caused. Mr. Savrimuthu enlightened the audience on the micro-credit schemes being promoted by the Indian Bank and also distributed loan cheques to 18 different SHGs amounting to a total of Rupees Forty Five lacs, to be used for launching small business enterprises. Fr. Elson Barretto described the various initiatives undertaken by DBDS in the city, especially the women’s development programmes. The highlight of the evening was a Fashion Show Contest in which 25 women participated. These contestants, decked up as ‘new brides’, walked the ramp to the enthusiastic applause of the audience. The programme concluded with the distribution of certificates to 175 women who had successfully completed a variety of skills training courses organized by DBDS in different slum areas in the city during the past few months.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

BEAUTY ON WOMENS DAY

Ranald Lopes sdb

CHHOTAUDEPUR, MARCH 8, 2010: The 45 day Beautician course drew to a close on March 7, 2010 as 27 girls from the tribal area culminated their course in Beauty, sponsored by the NABARD bank. Though the World Fashion Centre is at Paris, LSK vouches that Chhota too will someday make its place on the Fashion Map. It was heart warming to see young girls now prepared in a new way of income generation activity. LSK organized this 45 day workshop with the help of Laura Abreo a well know beautician from Mumbai who directed the girls on beauty tips and make up. This was not all, to venture into this business one needs finance, hence called the SBI director of Chhota was called to speak to the girls and show them how to secure a bank loan with 50% deduction for their new venture. The girls are now empowered to begin their own enterprise and earn a handsome living. Certificates were also distributed and each one also got a basic make up kit to begin this needful and fashionable business.





Tuesday, March 9, 2010

ACCENTURE-TAJ VALEDICTORY FUNCTION AT BOSCO BOYS

Manish Parmar
BORIVLI, MARCH 9, 2010: The first batch of 52 students who successfully completed the ‘Accenture-Taj Skills Development Course’ were awarded their certificates during a simple yet solemn valedictory function held at Bosco Boys, Borivli on Saturday, March 6, 2010. The Chief Guest for the occasion was Mr. Vasant Ayyappan, Director Corporate Sustainability, Taj Group of Hotels. Also present on the dais were Fr. Ajoy Fernandes, Vice Provincial, Fr. Savio Silveira, Fr. Anaclete D’Mello and Fr. Anthony Santarita.

This three months training programme promoted by DB Tech India and funded by the Accenture Company, had the Taj Group of Hotels as the knowledge partner. The four domains in which training was offered included Hospitality Service, Restaurant Service, Indian Cookery, and Bakery and Confectionery. Besides this, the students also received training in Conversational English, Computer Basics and Life Skills. The good blend of theory and practice that the training offered enabled the students to gain a fair amount of competence over the different domains. Further, besides the classroom sessions, the students received hands-on experience in different hotels, and were taken for exposure visits to the Taj President Hotel at Cuffe Parade and to the Taj Sats Air Catering Centre.

Speaking during the function, Mr. Ayyappan complimented the students for the keen interest they had displayed throughout the training period. He encouraged them to keep working hard and assured them that Taj would assist them in building their careers. Some of the students came forward to share their experience of the past months and to express their gratitude to the institution. They were full of praise for the excellent training that they had received and for the personal interest taken in them by the management and staff. After the certificates were awarded to the successful students, the programme came to a close with the vote of thanks proposed by one of the students.

Friday, February 19, 2010

BIS #1771 FARMERS TRAINING AT ANAND AGRICULTURAL UNIVERSITY

Kamlesh Dodia
NARUKOT, FEBRUARY 19, 2010: “Down the ages we have been making use of age old techniques learnt from our ancestors and we could have continued them if we did not have this training. This exposure for five days has in fact opened our eyes towards new era of using modern methods and techniques of growing agricultural products that will eventually help us to live a better life.” Madhuben Nayak proudly proclaimed her wisdom through these words.

Kantibhai Bariya from Ishwariya village looked at it from another perspective as he said, “It was a privilege to be part of this training as it provided us a chance to be one and united although we belonged to different villages, age, sex, class, caste and religion.”

Such was the impact of the second successive farmers training organized by Don Bosco, Narukot in collaboration with Anand Agricultural University, Anand from February 6- 10, 2010.

Having had regular inputs from scientists of Anand Agricultural University every morning on topics such as drip irrigation to save water, use of natural and organic manual, system of rice intensification, all farmers both men and women had a march past through huge fields of bananas and paddy to witness modern techniques of agricultural products, in gigantic galleries of the famous Amul dairy to see technological wonders of automatic processing of milk and in lanes of Anand city to experience hustle and bustle of urban life.

It was enriching and memorable experience for all of them for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, the majority had a chance for the first time to be away from their villages and to breathe in urban area. Secondly, it provided them a chance to be together as there were farmers from sixteen different villages of diverse age, sex, caste and religion. Thirdly, they gained knowledge of modern methods and techniques of growing agricultural products with less water. Finally, they also had a chance to explore new places like the Amul dairy and Vehrakhadi (picnic spot).

Metardada from Gandhra, the eldest of the group expressed gratitude to Fr. Stanny Ferreira and to the Development staff on behalf of the entire group for organizing this versatile training.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

DB ACTION HOLDS NATIONAL WORKSHOP

Anand Raj
HYDERABAD, JANUARY 31, 2010:
Don Bosco Action India, the national network of the Don Bosco Development Offices, held a two day meeting cum training workshop, on January 28-29, 2010 at the Provincial House, Hyderabad to discuss strategies for strengthening the network and plan for a national level project. Two staff members from each of the 10 Development Offices attended this meet.

During the inaugural session, Fr. Sudhakar, Executive Director of Bosco Seva Kendra, Hyderabad, welcomed the gathering and pointed out that this was the first time ever that staff members from all the partner organizations that constitute the network had come together for such a programme. Fr. Noel Maddichetty, the Provincial of Hyderabad, addressing the participants, said that our development work should empower marginalized communities to change unjust social structures. He further stressed that the focus should not only be economic development but rather all issues faced by underprivileged communities.

Getting down to work, the pre-lunch sessions were conducted by Fr. Savio Silveira, National Convener of DB Action India. In his presentation, he enlightened the gathering on the vision, mission, objectives and structure of the network. He also outlined the national priority area for the next three years, i.e., empowering Self Help Groups to access government and other programmes to enhance their livelihoods. Finally, he discussed with the team the Action Plan for 2010, and the roles and responsibilities of all the members in realizing this plan. In the afternoon session, all the Development Offices were given the opportunity to make a short presentation on the programmes being implemented by them. The final session of the day was dedicated to planning the national level project to be taken up in 2011.

The second day was facilitated by Ms. P Madhavi from ACCESS Development Services. The theme for this training workshop was: State of Microfinance Sector in India - Present Status, Future Challenges and Critical Gaps. The sessions focused on several important areas such as Microfinance Models, Microfinance Institutions, Ideological Issues, Financial Products etc. The workshop gave the participants a realistic idea of the present state of the microfinance sector in India, the hype that envelopes it and the fact that barely five percent of poor people in India actually benefit from microfinance services. The meeting concluded with a vote of thanks proposed by Mr. Cecil from Kolkata.

REPUBLIC FIESTA


MUMBAI, JANUARY 28, 2010: Four hundred children from the bastis of the K-East Ward of Mumbai gathered in the hall at Dominic Savio, Andheri, on Republic Day to culminate a fortnight of activities that were initiated in seventeen schools in the neighborhood.

Children need opportunities to express themselves in a variety of ways. Balprafulta initiated a program in various municipal and private schools in the K-East Ward through which thousands of children got the opportunity to give went to their feelings in creative ways. Some wrote essays, others gave speeches, some others expressed their ideas through skits and a few others used their artistic talents in preparing meaningful posters. The best of these were presented on the stage at Dominic Savio’s at the Republic Day celebrations organized for the children.

A study report on Child Rights was also released on the occasion. The study report was compiled from the data collated from 13,556 children who took part in a campaign entitled “Hamari Suraksha, Hamara Adhikar”. The study revealed that children hardly had a say in decisions made on their behalf, opportunities for quality education and healthy recreation was badly lacking and some children were put to work in order to augment the income of their family.

Republic Day celebrates the freedom we enjoy because our constitutions guarantee us our fundamental rights. Unfortunately, for many, these rights are still a distant dream!