INDIA: Salesians Aid Refugees of Ethnic Violence
(MissionNewswire) Salesian Missions is reporting that Salesian-run Don Bosco Institute in Guwahati, India, is providing relief efforts for those displaced by recent ethnic violence. The violence has occurred in the districts of Assam, a northeastern state of India, and has left 56 people dead and thousands more displaced from their homes. According to news reports, the districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang and Baksa have been hit the hardest.
A recent news article in The Hindu estimated that as many as 278 relief camps had been opened to shelter people from these districts. Salesian-run programs in the area have been aiding the refugees as well.
Father V.M. Thomas, founder and director of the Salesian-run Don Bosco Institute in Guwahati, is spearheading the effort. The Salesian relief services are being organized through Guwahati-based Bosco Reachout, Don Bosco Institute and programs of the organization at Bengtol, Kokrajhar and Dotma.
Fr. Thomas is no stranger to organizing and directing relief services. In 1996, he set up the CARE program for thousands of children whose families were affected by the riots of that year. Currently, he is prioritizing program initiatives to respond to the refugees in need.
News reports in The Hindu indicate that refugees may begin to return to their homes as early as Aug. 15, 2012. But those living and remaining in the refugees camps need food, clothing, baby food and shelter. Relief materials consisting mainly of clothes continue to be distributed by the Salesians who plan to continue their work for as long as needed and are also working locally with civil authorities.
“Our services may be just a drop in the ocean,” says Fr. Thomas. “However, as we distribute these relief materials, we pray and hope that we will be able to spread the message of peace and harmony among the various communities living in these districts.”
“When there is violence, no one wins,” adds Fr. Thomas. “The children and women suffer most. We plan to supplement the relief services of the Government, particularly with an eye to help the children, women and the elderly. We mourn the death of those who lost their lives and pray and work for the healing of those wounded and stand by those who have been displaced.”
The relief services are further supported by Don Bosco Institute’s sister organizations; the Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco, the Congregation of Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians and the Sisters of Mary Immaculate.
Fr. Thomas has appealed to the general public and particularly the former students of Don Bosco Institute to work together in this humanitarian initiative by mobilizing human and material resources.
To learn more and support programs like this, visit www.SalesianMissions.org.
PHOTO: REUTERS/Utpal Baruah
The Hindu – Sporadic violence in Kokrajhar
The Hindu – Refugees to return home by Aug 15: Gogoi
The Assam Tribune – Don Bosco chips in with aid in BTAD districts
Salesian Missions – Don Bosco Institute
Don Bosco Institute Website – Don Bosco Institute
Reuters/AlertNet: Refugees flee ethnic violence in India’s troubled Assam