INDIA: Don Bosco Ashalayam has provided support and rehabilitation for more than 80,000 street children over the last 30 years
(MissionNewswire) Don Bosco Ashalayam provides support and rehabilitation for street children in India. More than 500 children currently reside in the 23 shelters in Ashalayam and benefit from educational and recreational opportunities. Through its presence on the streets and with courses and programs offered in slums and railway stations, Don Bosco Ashalayam provides assistance to thousands of street children every year. More than 80,000 children have benefited in three decades.
Don Bosco Ashalayam also provides the Childline hotline, a free telephone line that works 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Street children can call anonymously to seek support and ask for assistance. Bosco Delhi, through the Don Bosco Ashalayam Center, operates Childline.
Salesian staff members work tirelessly every day of the year to ensure the rights of the children in need and give them special care and protection. They work collaboratively with law enforcement, healthcare, juvenile justice, transportation and legal providers, along with the media, to create awareness on child rights and provide child protection services.
One of the children impacted by the Don Bosco Ashalayam is Pappu Shukla. When he was only 7 years old, Shukla was playing in the street with his older sister when he was deceived by a man who took him to his car and kidnapped him. When Shukla got out of the vehicle, he did not know where he was but was told that he would have to work as a servant. Today, after being rescued by Don Bosco Ashalayam, Shukla is 17 years old and is an example of Salesian educational work for children’s rights in India.
“Those people were horrible. They got drunk and beat me, so after a while, I decided to run away,” explained Shukla. “After running and wandering about a lot, I got on the first train I saw and got to the end of the line. The last stop was the Calcutta station, but I had nowhere to go. Fortunately, an operator of the Salesian Childline project found me while I was wandering around the train station. I didn’t know which state or city my parents came from and nobody had reported my disappearance, because we were very poor, so they couldn’t find my family.”
Shukla added, “The Child Welfare Committee decided to send me to Ashalayam and, although to date I haven’t been able to track down my parents, I’m happy, because the Salesians have given me a new family. Thanks to the Salesians, I passed the school exams and now I’m studying graphic design at the University of New Delhi. I have come a long way, and I’ll never forget what Ashalayam has done for me.”
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 programs across India are primarily focused on education. Salesian primary and secondary education in the country helps youth prepare for later technical, vocational or university study. Other programs help to support poor youth and their families by meeting the basic needs of shelter, proper nutrition and medical care.
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Salesian Missions – India
World Bank – India