Population:1.2 billionLiteracy Rate:63%Religion: Roman Catholic (2%)
Salesian Missions is making a huge difference in India, but the need is enormous. The country is home to 25% of the world's hungry poor, 44% of the workforce is illiterate, 220,000 children have been affected by the AIDS epidemic and India has the largest number of child laborers in the world. Progress has been significant: the number of out-of-school children has been reduced from 25 million to 8 million in the past 8 years, and more than 85% of the population has access to sustainable clean drinking water.
Bring Water and Electricity
Safe drinking water is essential for child survival. In India, progress has been made on access to safe drinking water with 84.5% of rural and 95% of urban populations having sustainable access to safe drinking water, according to the World Bank.
At the Don Bosco Centre for Learning in Kura, a new training facility focuses on job training in developing technologies concerning water – ranging from plumbing and sanitation to developing efficient methods for utilization and analyzing existing systems for efficient transportation of water. The courses are designed for youth who have previously left school in order to help them enter the job market.
More Missions in India
In India, primary education programs are achieving success. According to the World Bank, between 2003 and 2009, the number of out-of-school children declined from 25 million to eight million. When children lack educational opportunities, it is often due to issues of caste, class and gender.
At Salesian centers, students gain access to education through initiatives designed to match specific needs. Bridge or “leapfrog courses” serve pre-adolescent children who have never been to school. These students go through a year of intensive study before joining the 4th or 5th grade the following year. For older students who have never been inside a classroom, 18 centers provide basic education and training to help generate income and skills and provide leadership. Coaching is available for students in need of extra help. These non-traditional education settings aim to reach the greatest number of children and youth possible.
In the first program of its kind in southern India, Sri Lankan Tamil refugee youth are attending vocational school – and receiving classes in technical vocational skills and human development, as well as basic health services. The “New Beginnings” program from Salesian Missions focuses on the Sri Lankan Tamil youth – some who have been in refugee camps all of their lives. Many hope to build their lives in Sri Lanka and for the first time see the country they consider home.
Building the skills of India’s rapidly rising workforce is a key focus for reducing poverty, according to the World Bank. Nearly 44% of India’s work force is illiterate and only 17% has secondary schooling.
To increase the potential of India’s youth, Salesian Missions is introducing four projects dedicated to skills training in rural areas this year. The projects are a collaboration between Bosco Academy for Skills and Employment (BASE) and the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) of the Indian government. Young people have and will be trained in their interest areas, taking into consideration their unique capacities, skills and talents. Choices include welding, chauffeuring, auto mechanics, data entry operation, desktop publishing, secretarial skills, retail sales, IT services and others. The first program began June 1, 2010.
In India, education can help overcome inequities in jobs and income that are related to gender. Nisha’s story is an example of how one woman’s achievement helps contribute to the community as a whole:
Nisha, strong and confident, works in her beauty salon doing manicures, styling hair and doing facials in Pune, an Indian town with more than a million inhabitants. “Finally I am able to work for my own living and to offer my children a good education,” Nisha says. But it was not always so. Married as a young girl, Nisha worked as a maid and had to take care of her husband after a severe accident. Her life took a new direction after she became acquainted with the self-help groups founded by the Salesians of Don Bosco and now supported by Jugend Dritte Welt, an NGO affiliated with the Salesians. “Suddenly I wasn’t alone and found a new perspective for my life,” says Nisha. After completing a cosmetics course, Nisha opened her own beauty salon. Today she is able to repay her microcredit loans that she owed to the support group. More than 900 women participate in the microfinancing and skills training groups.
Despite significant economic progress in the past decade, India is home to about 25 percent of the world's hungry poor, according to the United Nations World Food Program.
Today, in the city of Vijayawada alone, more than 3,000 children are living on the street and struggling to find food. Through the New Life Children’s Home, children receive basic necessities – meals and shelter – along with classes. The success of the program is due largely to an innovative approach that includes former street children who invite the others into the shelter for care. In addition, peer educators spend time on the street reaching out to homeless children, providing important guidance, and making the streets safer for them.
In its 20 years in Vijayawanda, the New Life Children’s Home has served more than 25,000 children. Nearly half of them have been safely returned to their homes. Many others have gone on to lead productive and happy lives. Today, the Salesians in Vijayawada operate 12 centers throughout the city, providing education and safe shelter for the growing population of street children who arrive every day.
In Hindi, “YaR” means friend. At Salesian Missions facilities, it also stands for “youth at risk” who are given a powerful voice through a wide range of programs.
To date, 1,019 “YaR” units reach 95 cities and towns of India. These service units include shelter homes, children’s homes, youth hostels, street presence, telephone services, child labor schools and vocational training centers. Each center is unique in serving its particular community of vulnerable youth and adolescents – whether they be street children, child laborers, youth affected by HIV/AIDS or youth in conflict with the law. Together the centers come together to represent the millions of at-risk children in India.
India has the largest number of child laborers under the age of 14 in the world, according to UNICEF. Many are engaged in dangerous occupations and live life on the streets.
Through Don Bosco Anbu Illam, a child rights organization begun by the Salesians in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, South India, vulnerable children and youth in the slums receive basic care and education in a family-like environment. If needed, they have access to immediate legal or medical help, as well as individual counseling. Children are actively encouraged to take part in the running of the home. When the youngsters reach age 17, they may start vocational training classes. There they are taught trades such as carpentry, tailoring or welding, that enable them to build a life for themselves.
Building the skills of India’s rapidly rising workforce is a key focus for reducing poverty, according to the World Bank. Nearly 44% of India’s work force is illiterate and only 17% has secondary schooling. Salesian Missions is committed to reaching youth beyond the formal institution to provide education and leadership opportunities. For example:
- Youth can participate in a month-long residential, intensive coaching for weaker students in seven schools to ensure they do not fail in the public examinations.
- Students at any school who fail examinations can receive 45 days of coaching prior to retaking the exams.
- Graduates and post-graduates can train to improve their job interview skills
Each program is designed to reach out to young people as they seek to be leaders in the community.
Building the skills of India’s rapidly rising workforce is a key focus for reducing poverty, according to the World Bank, which recommends significant investment in technology and communications training.
For young computer programmers at the BIC INFO TECH, this investment is already a reality. These remarkable students are from socially and economically disadvantaged families – many are “untouchables” or children of illiterate parents. The house of every student is visited to ensure that he or she would have no other chance of higher education.
The program allows students to gain hand-on experience developing software for organizations worldwide in state-of-the-art computer facilities. In addition, they develop English communication skills. Students have a 100% placement rate after graduation.
At the New Life Children’s Home in India, children are empowered to make choices that create success stories. Service units include shelter homes, children’s homes, youth hostels, street presences, “help line” telephone services, child labor schools and vocational training centers.
One success story belongs to Shankar. More than 16 years ago, as seven-year old homeless boy, Shankar was rag picking and working at a hotel in a desperate attempt to make money. He was often beaten. After receiving care at the New Life Children’s home, Shankar is now a successful young man with a well-paying job in communications. Another story is Santosh. Before coming to the New Life Children’s Home, Santosh lost an arm and a leg while playing on the railroad tracks and lived on the streets. Recently, Santosh completed his master’s degree in social work – and is volunteering at the home to help other children and youth make life-changing decisions.
India has an estimated 220,000 children affected by HIV, with an estimated 55,000 children born every year to mothers who are HIV-positive, according to UNICEF.
Nearly 850 children affected by HIV/AIDS are sponsored by Bosco Mangaal to receive education, counseling, nourishment and life skills. Forty-five children are given total care. A short-term but intensive training is given to 20 young AIDS widows to empower them with skills for earning an income to support themselves and their children.
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Sandra Kuck has graciously donated this limited-edition print “Kissing Kitty” in order to help raise funds for our missions projects around the world.