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INDIA: Don Bosco Anbu Illam helps migrants and at-risk people during the coronavirus pandemic


(MissionNewswire) Don Bosco Anbu Illam, located in Chennai, India, is supporting the health department of Greater Chennai Corporation with a united effort to aid homeless people who have been neglected during the quarantine period. The entire country has been enduring a lockdown, and the homeless have been suffering with no food, shelter and other basic necessities to fight the disease. They also have nearly no medical support.

Almost 2,000 homeless and migrant people were given temporary shelter at marriage halls and corporation community halls. Those who have been given shelter are also being entertained by movies and social games to fight social isolation. They also have access to crisis counseling.

Chennai Corporation and Don Bosco Anbu Illam have partnered to carry out several actions including identifying the homeless and migrant families in need, setting up the shelter camps around the city, rescuing families, and providing food, nutrition and medical services. The two organizations have also provided sanitizers, mats and toiletries, and launched awareness and precautionary tools for the migrants and children during the crisis.

Don Bosco Anbu Illam is also running Childline, which is a national emergency helpline for children who are in distress. The line is run under the Ministry of Women and Child Development. Don Bosco Anbu Illam has rescued children who are homeless and abandoned on the street and helped them to be placed in children’s homes.

Salesians from Don Bosco Anbu Illam have also been intervening for local families and providing them groceries, online awareness sessions through social media, and entertainment kits to children. They have been preparing food and other basic items for migrants in the area. More than 70 volunteers have come together to support this work. In addition, volunteers have made and provided masks to the police and health departments.

Don Bosco Anbu Illam has 14 intervention areas in the coastal slum regions of the city. In these locations, they are supporting the poor and migrants by providing masks, nutritional snacks, toiletries and hand sanitizer, as well as prevention health and safety information.

“The work of Salesians around the globe goes beyond education and that has been especially true now during the coronavirus pandemic,” says Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Salesians aim to serve the whole person by making sure that basic needs like health and nutrition are met in addition to other social service needs. Salesian programs are working to adapt to the challenges of today whether it’s providing education online in place of schools that are now closed, teaching youth about virus prevention and safety measures for those that are living in shelters and boarding houses, or helping to support at-risk populations like migrants and the elderly.”

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.

Salesian missionaries living and working in India place special emphasis on rescuing and rehabilitating children engaged in child labor. There are Salesian-run programs throughout the country that have helped hundreds of thousands of vulnerable youth through the years, and this work continues today.

Missionaries will continue to assess needs for prevention and support during this challenging time and work to support youth and their families in ways they can during this pandemic.



Photo courtesy of Don Bosco Anbu Illam

Salesian Missions – India

World Bank – India

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