INDIA: Graduate of Don Bosco Ashalayam chosen for Bollywood movie production
(MissionNewswire) Rajdeep spent many years at Don Bosco Ashalayam, a Salesian center for youth at risk in Kolkata, the capital of India‘s West Bengal state. Last year, he left the center to join a rugby school. Recently, he was selected by a Bollywood film director to play a role in “Jungle Cry,” a film based on the true story of the Indian under-14 rugby team known as the Jungle Crows who, in 2007, won the London-based international school rugby tournament, Tour Aid.
The Jungle Crows rugby club was made up of tribal boys trained by Indian coach, Rudraksha Jena from the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences, and by Paul Walsh, a British diplomat who gave up his career to teach rugby to disadvantaged youth.
Rajdeep is among 13 boys chosen from more than 500 aspiring film actors. He credits Don Bosco Ashalayam with helping him to develop public speaking skills, an important factor in his selection for the movie.
Rajdeep and his two brothers had been rescued by a Salesian priest at the Howrah railway station. Although their father was still alive, he had been unable to take care of them or pay for their schooling. Had it not been for Salesian missionaries, they would have remained living on the streets. Rajdeep is very grateful for the education and support provided by Salesian missionaries in India. The film director of the movie is also a Salesian graduate from Mumbai.
Rajdeep visited Wales in December 2018 for movie production at three different rugby stadiums. Shortly before returning to India, Rajdeep, together with another boy who had stayed at Don Bosco Ashalayam, was able to meet the British woman who had funded their education through an overseas program.
“It was a wonderful encounter and a dream come true for Rajdeep,” said Father Andrew Ebrahim, a Salesian missionary who had coordinated Rajdeep’s trip. On their return to the hotel, Fr. Ebrahim, brought the two boys to visit another Salesian community at Chertsey in Surrey, England. Both boys were very happy to be able to meet and personally thank people who for years have been involved in helping youth like them.
Don Bosco Ashalayam offers a range of programs for disadvantaged youth. Reaching out to street children and others, the organization offers child helplines, shelters, schools and vocational programs. Outreach programs help to meet youth on the street and offer them a fresh start in life.
Youth are able to visit the program and engage in social and educational activities as well as receive support and meals. Through educational activities and games, youth receive important lessons in personal hygiene and sexual health, self-esteem, combatting fears and substance abuse. Through these activities, some youth decide they want to formally enter one of the Don Bosco Ashalayam centers to live and study.
India is home to 25 percent of the world’s poor and more than 30 percent of the country’s population lives in poverty, according to the World Bank. With the largest number of child laborers in the world, India has made significant progress the past eight years reducing the number of out-of-school children from 25 million to 8 million. However, an estimated 11 million children live on the streets facing the daily horrors of rampant exploitation, forced labor, widespread substance abuse and physical violence. Many poor youth see little opportunity or hope for a better life.
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UNICEF – India