Don Bosco Konkan Development Society:
Forming Good Persons and Honest Citizens
Iris C F Gomes
It began with a dream in his boyhood, which impelled John Bosco to work towards alleviating the distressed condition of the youth of his time. A dream at the age of nine revealed his future as a great educationist and transformer of young lives. The mystical experience was eventually transformed into a tangible one through his tireless efforts.
The religious order conceived by this Roman Catholic saint, better known as Don Bosco, has spread his ideas and educative methods far and wide through the world. It is by means of reason, religion and loving kindness that they endeavour to mould morally upright and intellectually able individuals who would contribute in the best way possible to the betterment of society.
In Goa, the Salesians of Don Bosco continue his good work, having made their entry in India in the year 1906. They are not just involved with mainstream educational institutes but special attention is given to marginalised classes that are in utmost need of aid. The Don Bosco Konkan Development Society (DBKDS) in the Salesian province of Panjim was initiated in the year 2005. The Society extends its functions in the states of Goa, Maharashtra and eight districts of Karnataka. It operates in tandem with other organisations to create a society that will distance itself from injustice, nurture human values and enable people to become self-reliant. Support emerges from DBKDS in the form of planning, networking, training, capacity building, research, documentation, monitoring and evaluation.
Margaret Bosco Bal Sadan (MBBS): The children’s home for boys with no place to call their own and no family to care for them, has been eponymously named for the saintly mother of Don Bosco. Just as she participated in the activities of her son, helping young boys envision a better future for themselves, so also, the home provides the boys with a warm, caring environment where they have access to education. The premises include the Goan house donated by Mrs. Muriel Pinto and her children, nestled in the cosy locale of Paliem-Uccasaim. Margaret Bosco Bal Sadan has been functional since June 2007 and has made a world of a difference to so many youngsters (7-18 years) by not only encouraging higher education but also providing facilities for vocational training to those who cannot cope with formal education. Extracurricular activities such as music, singing, excursions, hikes, camps, picnics, sports are encouraged to promote the all-round development of the boys. Values such as a conscientious love of the environment, and dignity of labour in terms of working in the kitchen garden and house cleaning, are inculcated in these youngsters. Preparing them as Don Bosco would, to contribute constructively to society, is the main aim of MBBS.
NRSTC Project (Non-Residential Special Training Centres): This project was initiated to allow drop-outs and those deprived of education to avail of formal education. This is done by first providing non-formal education that centres on preparing the child for a formal educational setting, teaching them in a simple and practical manner. Volunteer educators, who receive special training, are expected to build up a child’s personality on every level. Recreational activities such as sports and picnics are also part of the process. Children who are placed in formal schools, but have trouble keeping up with the rest of the students, are given the necessary assistance. Regular health check-ups and dental camps are incorporated in the project.
Adult Literacy: Since 2011, this programme has endeavoured to educate marginalised women in basic subjects like English, Mathematics and Hindi. The women are also schooled in issues connected with children, family and society through discussions.
Remedial Teaching Project: The project has been implemented in 28 rural schools in Goa with a surge in the academic progress of scholastically weak students. Their talents are gauged and fostered with the aid of co-curricular activities and trained teachers.
Self-Help Groups: These groups comprise of marginalised men and women, usually 10-20 members. These groups are involved in income generating activities, savings and internal lending. Social, political and economic empowerment is the basic motivation behind these self-help groups.
Family Counselling Centre (FCC): The Family Counselling Centre set up in Alto Dabolim in partnership with the Central Social Welfare Board in 2007, offers counselling to families mired with issues ranging from domestic violence, financial crises, health related problems to substance abuse. It caters to the needs of people from Zuarinagar, Vasco, Mangor Hill, Cortalim, Colva and other areas. The locals in these places are also awakened to social problems and provided the tools to deal with them.
Other Works: DBKDS is focused on preventing child labour and the Devdasi system in Bagalkot, Karnataka. Furthermore, it has a Child Sponsorship Programme and invites volunteers to be involved in any of their many projects. The organisation has had a host of volunteers from all over the globe, primarily Australia and the U.K. The volunteers seem to enjoy the experience, garnering the best of it while interacting with children. Amanda Grimes, a citizen of U.K., says candidly, ‘A great experience. Challenging and very trying at times.’ Jane McDonnell, an Australian, sings praises of the work done by DBKDS and the administrative efforts put in.
The kindness, generosity and dedication of the Salesian priests and deacons are especially visible in their attention to detail and involvement on a personal level with every child in their care. Executive Director, Fr. Jose Sequeira, says with obvious pride in his voice, ‘One of our boys has become a professional footballer and another is a national level boxer.’ The various programmes are a testament to the continuing inspiration of Don Bosco and generate hope for a better tomorrow for many a destitute person, and consequently a better tomorrow for the world as a whole.
(For further information, sponsorship or volunteering contact the Director, Fr. Jose Sequeira
mobile: (+91) 9881810953, phone: (+91) (832) 3260711, website: www.donboscokds.com)