INDIA: Italian donor provides funding for school for 60 children living in Indian slum
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries in the state of Andra, India, started educational activities in the Kacherapalem slum in December 2016. They started their work under a small tent, but in Febrary 2017, Massimiliano Schilirò, an Italian traveler from Gavi, visited the slum and left a small contribution with which a wooden school hut was built.
The Kacherapalem slum is home to close to 800 people who live in 150 tents and huts. The shantytown has existed for 20 years and is located under a bridge near the railway. There are no toilets, no waste collection and no electricity in the houses. They use lamps or candles. Most adults recycle waste on the street, collecting plastic, glass, metal and cardboard, and sell small homemade crafts or fruit products. Children do not attend school because parents cannot afford it and prefer to let their children work.
This new Salesian structure, although small, benefits more than 60 children aged 4 to 14 years old and positively impacts the entire community. The school provides basic education and bridges educational gaps to allow youth to be integrated into the Indian school system. The program also provides one nutritious meal per day and medical assistance to the children. Youth are also able to come together and have a safe place to play and connect with their peers.
“All youth deserve a chance to succeed in life and be a valued member of their community,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Youth who attend the small Salesian school have a real opportunity to gain a basic education and be able to advance on in their studies. They can safely connect with their peers and learn the social skills needed for long-term success in their lives.”
Once back in Italy, Schilirò (known in his area as “Massi on the road”) started a fundraising program for the Salesian school project. Through the sale of his two travel books, along with various public and school readings and presentations, he collected 4,000 Euros for the school, which was then sent to the school’s director, Salesian Father Ratna, through the Don Bosco Mondo Foundation.
As a result of these efforts, for the last 10 months about 60 boys and girls from the shantytown have had a small but clean and safe place to learn, play, eat and grow together. A number of initiatives have also been created for parents, who have become actively involved in the project itself.
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.
World Bank – India