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INDIA: Program provides farming assistance in tribal communities

Retreat-Don Bosco provides second round of agriculture training for 80 participants


(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries with Retreat-Don Bosco in Yercaud, India, have launched the second round of training for the “CALLS” program. Calling it “CALLS 2.0,” which stands for “COVID-19 Alternative Livelihood and Living Services,” the program provides farming assistance in tribal communities so residents have enough food to eat. Because Yercaud is a hill town, most people earn their living through tourism. Due to the pandemic, residents have seen poverty and hunger on the rise.

The “CALLS” program provides training in greenhouse and plant nursery skills, garden care, and greenery maintenance. The first round of training in August 2020 provided education to 40 people over a 21-day training course. Among the participants were 10 college students who wanted to earn money to pay their college fees, as well as learn a skill for the future.

The second round of training will educate 80 people. Participants are paid a daily wage during the training, which will enable them to gain employment in tourist resorts, private homes, or nurseries to create gardens and lawns, as well as provide greenery maintenance.

Many participants who completed the course in 2020 shared that the training was very empowering and has equipped them with a skill to earn a living. A few local businesses have expressed interest in hiring some of the participants.

“This innovative program helped people in the local community have an alternative means of earning a living,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “In addition to providing nutrition and health support during the pandemic, Salesian missionaries are working to ensure people are able to work when they can or acquire new skills to go back to work when the lockdowns are lifted.”

The program is a joint initiative of Shevaroy Hills Tribal Development Institute of the Retreat-Don Bosco, Jugend Eine Welt of Austria and BoscoNet, New Delhi. It is coordinated by Salesian Father Selvakumar, the local project manager.

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.



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ANS – India – “CALLS 2.0” project supports 80 people affected by effects of pandemic

Salesian Missions – India

World Bank – India