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INDIA: Relief continues for those most in need

Don Bosco Development Society distributes basic necessities and hygiene items to people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic


(MissionNewswire) Don Bosco Development Society, the planning and development office of the Salesian Province of Mumbai, India, has continued to help those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the support of Auxilium India, an association in Seregno, Italy, Salesian missionaries have distributed goods, basic necessities and hygiene items.

This is part of ongoing relief work that Salesian missionaries have been providing in India and around the globe. Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, said, “Because Salesian missionaries 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.”

In 2020, Don Bosco Development Society carried out several distributions of food and hygiene items. They helped 400 poor families in the Dharavi slum with the support of Don Bosco Mondo in Bonn, Germany. 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 pandemic 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 supporting these families in need through prevention campaigns, distribution of food and hygiene items, and remote education.

Prior to the pandemic, Don Bosco Development Society was providing education in 10 villages in the state of Rajasthan 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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