INDIA: 900 families benefit from COVID-19 relief initiative
The Don Bosco Development Society provides food, cleaning supplies and hygiene kits to 900 poor families in Gujarat
(MissionNewswire) The Don Bosco Development Society, the planning and development office of the Salesian Province of Mumbai, in collaboration with its various partners, has provided food, cleaning supplies and hygiene kits to 900 poor families in the Indian state of Gujarat. The initiative has benefited families of ethnic minorities living in the hills and forests of the region and families of the lower classes living in various villages and cities. The project is supported by Don Bosco Mondo, the Salesian Mission Office in Bonn, Germany, and the Conrad Family of Germany.
The initiative is one among many that the Don Bosco Development Society has carried out since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year. The organization also provided assistance to 60 migrant families residing in Antop Hill and Matunga. In November, they helped 400 poor families in the Dharavi slum and 140 people with disabilities by distributing relief kits containing rations and toiletries.
People living in the slums of India have been hard hit by the coronavirus lockdown and are without the means to earn even a meager living for food. Many were day laborers or worked in the informal employment sector selling items on the streets. Because of the lockdown, this work is no longer available and families are suffering. The Don Bosco Development Society and Salesian organizations across India have been helping to provide support to these families in need through educational and awareness campaigns about prevention of the virus, distributing food and hygiene items, and providing education remotely.
“Salesian missionaries are working to help those impacted by the pandemic in India and around the globe,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Because Salesians live among the populations they serve, they are agile in their response in times of crisis such as this. They can assess the needs locally, create an appropriate intervention and ensure relief items are in the hands of those most in need.”
Prior to the pandemic, the Don Bosco Development Society was providing education in 10 villages in the state of Rajasthan for 300 extremely poor and disadvantaged children, including children of farmers and workers in quarries. This is one project among many that is helping the poor and disadvantaged to have hope for the future.
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.
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 secondary education. In addition, many secondary school graduates do not have the knowledge and skills to compete in today’s changing job market.
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