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Don Bosco – Helping the Neediest Before and After the Pandemic.

Updated: Nov 29, 2022

By – Tanushri Tandon

The coronavirus pandemic began taking India into its grips, with confirmed news, from the 30th of January 2020. Since then, unfortunately, we have seen a rising graph. The post-haste imposition of a nationwide lockdown which has since continued until today, in its fourth and reopening stage, has had catastrophic consequences for a population which consists of 22 percent people living in poverty. Despite having the fourth largest economy in the country, about 31 percent of the world’s multi-dimensionally poor children call India home (according to a report by Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative). A multidimensional child is one who lacks at least one-third of the ten indicators grouped into three dimensions of poverty – health, education and standard of living. As of right now, there are 605,000 cases in the country.

In the midst of this upheaval, Bosconet, the Don Bosco initiative’s South Asian branch has taken the plunge to help the marginalised - daily wage workers and the elderly. Set up in 1906, the Don Bosco Network represented by Bosconet, is responsible for developing national strategies for sustainable development and the upliftment of the marginalized. It has 11 planning and development offices with 354 NGOs spread across the whole country.

From May 2020, the Salesian work of the “Don Bosco Ashalayam” in New Delhi has helped more than 60 migrant workers to return to their homes in Madhuayani and Chhapra in Bihar by making two buses available for them. This work required certain arrangements, as done by Fr Swanoop Choudhury, Director of the Ashayalam. Migrants have also been provided with food packages, protective masks and water. For the marginalised, who survive through a hand to mouth existence, lockdown means the discontinuation of wages. The migrant workers are far from home, living in semi-temporary living arrangements working every day to earn a basic living. In this testing time, the Salesian NGOs operating throughout the country, together with Don Bosco Network has distributed food to over 1,397,642 people as food kits or groceries, along with 169,885 food kits and 430,875 face masks to the neediest population during this time.

The “Misiones Salesianas” has contributed by distributing weekly food kits and hygiene products to tribal families in the state of Tamil Nadu. Apart from migrant workers, the network has also considered taxi drivers, street vendors, refugees and homeless people in its efforts. It is also executing various efforts for the elderly and children by providing them accommodation (such as making makeshift homes for the migrants), transportation and medical assistance. Extending its full capacity and potential, it has also tried to support government infrastructure through funds and supply of health workers, police and other government personnel.

A generous donation of €15,000 by the Don Bosco Aid (DBA) in Ireland has also been provided to their fellow Salesians and teams in Kerala. Working with the faith of the almighty in their heart, with a mission to serve as many as they possibly can, the network is thriving and deeply rooted in many Indian states. The work is quick, transparent and widespread.

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