INDIA: Salesian missionaries working to provide new initiatives to support poor youth and their families in response to the spread of the coronavirus
(MissionNewswire) Given the increase in the number of coronavirus infections, Salesian missionaries have implemented new measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus throughout India, along with new initiatives to support those most vulnerable and most in need.
Don Bosco Development Society, the Mumbai Planning and Development Office, has distributed 1,200 masks free of charge to migrants and slum residents. In addition, thanks to their collaboration with the company Mahanagar Gas Ltd, Salesian missionaries have created kits that contain food and personal hygiene products, which supported close to 3,000 families.
The Don Bosco Oratory of Matunga has set up collection points for the boys in the oratory and their families to access food and other products that they might need during this time. The managers of the oratory, in accordance with the provisions of the civil authorities, oversee the delivery points. The boys who attend this oratory often come from poor families and cannot be abandoned in this time of need.
In addition to addressing basic needs, many people are feeling mental health effects from the physical distancing and worry that the virus has brought. Don Bosco’s Prafulta Psychological Services has sprung to action to launch a telephone consultancy service, utilizing 50 consultants. The spread of the virus has raised anxiety, fear and behavioral changes that have led to insomnia, feelings of loneliness and depression. For this reason, the consultant specialists are available to those who need psychological support.
Work is also happening beyond Mumbai. BREADS, the Bangalore Planning and Development Office, has been in collaboration with KISMAT, the help desk for migrants, and is creating and distributing 1,000 kits containing rice, wheat flour, legumes, oil, vegetables and other food products.
The Don Bosco Sneha Bhavan Palluruthy, the authority for legal services in the district of Ernakulam, in collaboration with the Childline of Kochi and the High Court of Justice, has created a kitchen community to provide food for the poor and migrants. The kitchen will provide 750 packets of food daily as well as masks and hand sanitizer gel.
“These initiatives for migrants are particularly important during this time because they are out of work, are unable to travel back home and have few resources,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Salesian missionaries live in the communities they work and are perfectly positioned to help in times of crisis. They are working within their networks and communities to help those most vulnerable during this time.”
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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Salesian Missions – India
World Bank – India