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INDIA: Don Bosco Network feeds more than 1 million people during COVID-19 relief efforts


(MissionNewswire) India is nearing the end of its COVID-19 lockdown and people are concerned about what will happen next. For the poor and migrant workers, their focus is on basic existence with no jobs, incomes or even food in some places. Don Bosco Network has been working to help the poor and those who have been affected by the pandemic.

From March 25 to April 14, when the nation was thrown without warning into the chaos of a lockdown, Don Bosco Network and other nongovernmental organizations leapt to rescue the poor and stranded across India. These organizations also fed the poor, sheltered the stranded, and provided reassurance and preventive education.

With its immense reach, Don Bosco Network, consisting of 354 Don Bosco organizations across the states of India, has fed 1,082,446 people either through cooked food or grocery kits since the start of the lockdown. The organization manufactured and distributed 410,375 masks to people who would otherwise have no access.

The Don Bosco Network reached out to refugees and people living in slums and on the streets, providing food and awareness about COVID-19. They identified migrants in Kerala, Gurugram and elsewhere in their makeshift homes. Relief efforts were also focused on those who were completely locked in—from the elderly in the south to the children in the northeast. Don Bosco Network provided shelter and transport where possible to stranded people. Medical aid, health camps and psychological services were also provided.

“The Don Bosco Network sprung to action and has been working tirelessly for those in need,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “The network has also supported government infrastructure through funds and supplied health workers, police and other government personnel with protective face masks. In addition, they partnered with the local administration in many places to coordinate relief work for the maximum benefit of those in need.”

The massive relief work that the Don Bosco Network and other organizations managed during these past months is not sustainable without funding. As economic uncertainty clouds the world’s horizon and jobs disappear, the Don Bosco Network has to find different ways to help already marginalized people cope with these long-term challenges while supporting them in the short-term.

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.



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ANS – India – Sustaining a Million Vulnerable Lives: Don Bosco Solidarity COVID-19 Relief

Salesian Missions – India

World Bank – India

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