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INDIA: Don Bosco Development Society provides food rations and hygiene kits to families and people with disabilities living in the Dharavi slum


(MissionNewswire) Don Bosco Development Society, the planning and development office in Mumbai Province of India, 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 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. 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 have had to quickly change how they provide services during the pandemic,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arms 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 are able to 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, Don Bosco Development Society was providing education in 10 villages in the state of Rajasthan, India, 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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