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INDIA: Don Bosco Development Society helps woman start her own sandwich business to help support her family

(MissionNewswire) Don Bosco Development Society provides hope and support for those who have few resources and little hope for the future. The Salesian-run organization is working in communities in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, India. The organization runs a self help group to help women access skills training and other support to help them launch their own businesses.

Sharmila Thale recently accessed support through the self help group. She resides with her family at Wadala in Mumbai. A few months ago, she lost everything due to fire caused by an electrical short circuit. The fire destroyed all that she had, including her home, household items and other belongings. When her family was nearly homeless, she approached Don Bosco Development Society and Father Rolvin D’Mello, the organization’s executive director, for help.

Don Bosco Development Society was able to come to her aid. Thale shared her dream of starting a small sandwich business to provide for her family. Don Bosco Development Society first trained her to manage the small-scale business, and then provided a sandwich maker thanks to sponsorship from the partner organization Auxilium India in Seregno, Italy. This helped Thale start a small stall where she began selling different types of sandwiches. Today, Thale earns around Rs 900 per day.

“I am very grateful to Don Bosco Development Society for training me in this business and helping me become self-reliant,” said Thale.

Father D’Mello also added, “We are glad to see Sharmila standing on her own feet, and I am grateful to Auxilium India for its help and support.”

Salesian missionaries living and working in India and in more than 130 countries around the globe are focused on achieving gender equality through rights training, education and workforce development programs targeted specifically for women and girls. These programs strive to empower women and girls by providing opportunities for education and training that lead to livable wage employment and their independence free from violence and exploitation.

“Many women and girls face disadvantages and barriers to accessing education and achieving financial independence despite their huge potential,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Women that are empowered through these skills training programs along with education and workforce development assistance are more often able to achieve financial independence and help support their families and communities.”

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 new report by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative. A “multidimensionally poor” child is one who lacks at least one-third of ten 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 a 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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