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INDIA: Basic needs met for 850,000 during pandemic

Don Bosco Development Society provides groceries, hygiene products and medicines to 450 families in the slums of Mumbai


(MissionNewswire) Don Bosco Development Society continues to provide aid to those who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in India. Most recently, with the support of the Macquarie Group Foundation, Salesian missionaries provided 450 families in the slums of Mumbai with kits that contained groceries, hygiene products and medicines. Since the start of the pandemic, Don Bosco Development Society has reached out to more than 850,000 people, providing for their basic needs.

Earlier in the pandemic, Don Bosco Development Society helped 400 poor families in the Dharavi slum with the support of Don Bosco Mondo in Bonn, Germany. Aid kits containing food rations and hygiene items were distributed. Dharavi is the largest slum in Asia and is home to 850,000 residents, making it also one of the more cramped spaces in Mumbai.

Don Bosco Development Society also helped 140 people with disabilities residing in the slum by distributing relief kits containing rations and toiletries. Since some of those with physical disabilities could not pick up their relief kits in person, their family members did so on their behalf.

“People living in the slums of India have been hard hit by COVID-19 lockdown and are without the means to earn even a meager living for food,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arms of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “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.”

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.

Prior to the pandemic, 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.



Photo courtesy of Don Bosco Development Society

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