Monday, December 14, 2009


Ranald Lopes sdb
CHHOTAUDEPUR, DECEMBER 14, 2009: On December 10, 2009, 25 girls from the village received a Government certificate for a 45 day long course on tailoring and embroidery. The regional head of NABARD Mr. Gupte was present to hand over the certificates to the empowered girls. The girls were all eager to receive this training which has now given them a new source of livelihood. They would also be allowed special loans from the bank to bring a new sewing machine. The girls took a lot of pains to attend this course daily for 5 hours. They are now happy to begin a new enterprising business in their own villages.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Natasha Almeida
MUMBAI, DECEMBER 4, 2009: The month of November saw Don Bosco Development Society organize two important events in the city of Mumbai. The first one being a ‘ Cleanliness Campaign’ at Prakash Nagar, Mahim and the other an ‘Issue based Meeting’ at Kane Nagar, Antop Hill.

Ten students from Tilak Maharashtra University in collaboration with DBDS organized a Cleanliness Campaign at Prakash Nagar, Mahim where DBDS has its centre for community classes. Before the idea of the Cleanliness Campaign evolved the students of the community class participated in a drawing competition based on cleanliness organized by the students from Tilak Maharashtra University and DBDS. The women who attend community classes also showed interest by participating in a group discussion based on Garbage Management.

The competitions and discussions led to a Cleanliness Campaign on November 18, 2009. Mr. Dalvi Beat officer from Mahim police station helped in the awareness of the campaign. The Guest of Honour for the occasion was Mr. Subhash Patil, Senior Officer of the Garbage Management Department at the BMC. People who participated in the campaign were those who primarily reside at the Mahim Police Quarters and the slums of Prakash Nagar. On the occasion Mr. Patil spoke on Solid Waste Management and a short informative film was screened on the same issue. “Disposing garbage in the right way is the duty of a responsible citizen”, he said. Ms. Surekha Pednekar from DBDS explained that if we need to keep our society disease free we need to stress on cleanliness not only inside our homes but also on the outside. The children from the community classes put up a short play depicting the importance of disposing dry garbage and wet garbage in the right way.

On November 24, 2009, an issue based meeting organized by DBDS in collaboration with the ‘Ration Kriti Samiti’ was held at the Kane Nagar, Antop Hill. Gharib Niwas Khana, Kane Nagar, an undeclared slum of Mumbai holds 200 houses and a population of 1200 people. The main agenda of the meeting was to secure Ration Cards for the slum dwellers of Kane Nagar. Approximately 50 people attended the meeting. Mr. Sandeep Suman from Ration Kriti Samiti briefed the attendees on the right to food. Considering that everyone has a fundamental right to be free from hunger DBDS in collaboration with personnel from

Ration Kriti Samiti will help them secure basic food through Ration Cards. The meeting also focused on ways and means to curb corruption at the local shopkeeper to consumer level. Ms. Surekha Pednekar from DBDS who was present for the meeting said, “The right to food is a human right and is a binding obligation well-established under international law, recognized in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. These slum dwellers also have the right to adequate food.”

The follow up meeting on this issue will be held on December 6, 2009, where forms to secure Ration Cards for the dwellers of Gharib Niwas Khana will be filled in.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Natasha Almeida

MUMBAI, NOVEMBER 24, 2009: November 15, 2009 proved to be a day of empowerment for those students from Dharavi who had enrolled themselves for the tailoring, computer literacy and English speaking courses conducted by Don Bosco Development Society in collaboration with Ekvira Mitra Mandal as they received their certificates with much pride on completion of the three month long endeavor.

220 students received certificates from Mr. Mahadeo Shinde President of Ekvira Mitra Mandal and Mr. Baban Sonawane, Secretary of Ekvira Mitra Mandal. Also present for the event was Ms. Surekha Pednekar from Don Bosco Development Society. The programme began by invoking Gods presence and presenting floral tributes to the guests and teachers.

The highlight of the programme was two students who were housewives from the slums of Dharavi delivered a thank you speech in English expressing their gratitude for the skills learnt at the course. Proposing the vote of thanks Ms. Surekha mentioned that the success of the course was only possible because of the co operation and participation of the students.

At the same time 21 boys between 15- 19 years are being trained to repair mobile phones at the Jeri Meri centre, Kurla in collaboration with Janshikshan Sanstha. This training will last for a period of 50 days empowering them to accomplish added skills and have an edge in society.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Ranald Lopes sdb
For the people of Baroj and the staff of Lok Seva Kendra (LSK) Chhota Udepur, November 6, 2009 was an exciting and memorable day, with the visit of special guests.
Mr. Hans-Jürgen Dörrich, Director of Jugend Dritte Welt, Germany; Mr. Reinhard Heiserer, Director of Jugend Eine Welt, Austria; and Mr. Michael Mager and Mr. Jörg Einsiedel from the Grohe Company, Germany, visited LSK to understand the progress of the projects underway there. After a warm welcome by the staff of LSK, the guests made a few quick stops at the bakery, technical centre and other programmes running in the campus. The highlight of the day, however, was the visit to the village of Baroj, where LSK is implementing a watershed project supported by Jugend Dritte Welt.
At Baroj, the guests were greeted enthusiastically by the villagers, who had prepared a grand programme in their honour. After the programme, they visited the various sites in the village where watershed work is underway, and interacted with the people to understand the impact of the watershed on their lives. The LSK staff explained the methods used to execute the project, and took note of suggestions made by the visiting team.
Through their visit, the team was able to see the difference that their support has made to the lives of the people. After spending several hours in the village, the guests left with a sense of satisfaction and the intention of returning as soon as they can!


Ranald Lopes sdb
With the release of the Gujarat Government’s order calling for social audits of the NREGA across the state, Lok Seva Kendra (LSK) Chhota Udepur began facilitating the process by organising a training programme on 5th November for members of the Village Vigilance and Monitoring Committees (VVMC) from villages in Chhota Udepur Taluka.
The session was conducted by the staff of LSK, who had themselves attended a similar programme as members of the Taluka Resource Group. More than 120 committee members from 19 Panchayats, as well as the TDO and other local officials, attended the session. The objective of the programme was to enable the committee members to understand the concept of a social audit and prepare them to conduct the audits in their own villages.
Since then, LSK has also been involved in facilitating the actual audit process in 22 Panchayats in the taluka. This experience has revealed that much more preparation is necessary to strengthen the committees, improve the audit process and ensure transparency in the implementation of the NREGA. At present, LSK is involved in ensuring that true and verifiable audit reports are presented during the ongoing Gram Sabhas in Chhota Udepur Taluka.

Monday, November 9, 2009


NARUKOT, NOVEMBER 9, 2009: “It was one of the rare and the best experiences of village exposure program I have ever seen during my profession.” Dr. N.B. Chauhan expressed his gratitude to Narukot Education Society.

“It was well organized and timely managed program that provided us an opportunity to learn about socio-cultural and agricultural conditions of tribal.” one of the students named Nirav stated in his thanksgiving speech.

The students and the faculty members of B.A. College of Agriculture, Anand Agricultural University, Anand had an enriching experience at Narukot Education Society, Narukot. Rev. Frs. Stanny, Brain and the staff of Development Society left no space for them to complain. They in fact, remained on their toes to make sure that the students and the faculty members would have a comfortable stay in order to fulfill their desired educational objectives while enjoying marvels of nature in and around the campus.

It was under Rural Agricultural Work Experience of the college, a total of 68 students and 17 faculty members stayed at Narukot from September 22 to October 11, 2009. During this course of time, they visited at least thirty villages to have an interaction with the farmers to learn about land holdings, irrigation, practices of crop production, animal husbandry and horticulture. Apart from that, they were also interested in learning about socio cultural life of the villagers.

In addition to that Fr. Stanny keenly shared his experiences of being in the Society and in this area working for socio economic and cultural development of the tribal. They were blissful to know about mission and vision of the Society. The boarders too were lucky to receive wisdom and knowledge from some of the learned and experienced professors who were obliged to talk to them about techniques of crop production, weather forecasting, remote sensing etc.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Gregory Almeida sdb
November 3, 2009 was a unique day for Don Bosco Kawant as it celebrated the Yuva Day for the youth of Kawant taluka. The crowd that was supposed to be expected was just 100, but then the numbers went on to cross 180. It was an amazing sight to see youngsters in the Hall, waiting anxiously to begin this day of animation. This Yuva day was an event organized by the Youth Coordinator, Br. Ramesh Durairaj . The Youth day began with a prayer service well animated by the boarders. The remaining part of the day was well organized by the staff of the DISHA DON BOSCO development office, Kawant.

The day marked with the introductory talk by Fr. Gregory Almeida, highlighting the role and importance of Youth in today’s world. He gave an example of the Model village in Maharashtra, Hirve Bazaar, where the newly elected Sarpanch, Mr. Popatrao began the village work with the help of the village youth to bring transformation in the village and today the same village is been projected by the Centre as the Model village for all other state. It has received numerous awards in the field of development due to the help of these youths. A time has come to bring the same transformation in the villages of Kawant.

The remaining part of the day went on smoothly with the development staff, taking different sessions on NREGs, Gram Sabha, Panchayati Raj and Social Audit. It was also an enriching experience for the staff to know that there are youngsters in the villages willing to learn and fight for a common cause.

A time has come to animate these youngsters on a daily basis who will bring a change in the villages of Kawant. Special thanks to Br. Ramesh for his vision and insight in arranging this programme for the youth. Also to the DISHA development staff for planning, arranging and taking the different sessions on Gram Sabha, NREGs, Self Help Group, Social Audit and Govt. Schemes. All in all it was a great day for Don Bosco, Kawant to begin work for these needy youth.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Monty Rodrigues sdb
Navi Mumbai, October 26, 2009:
Don Bosco launched the Self Help Group movement at Nerul in Navi Mumbai with a training programme on October 23-24, 2009. The training was conducted by Ms. Surekha Pednekar and Mr. Melvin Pangya from the Don Bosco Development Office, Matunga. The first day of the programme was dedicated to helping the participants gain an in-depth understanding of the present socio-economic and political situation, and the impact it has on weaker and marginalized sections of society. On the second day, issues pertaining explicitly to Self Help Groups were taken up. This included sessions on the objectives of the SHG movement, methodology for forming of groups and strategies for the successful running of the groups.
A total of 23 participants attended the training programme. The sessions were extremely lively and the talks were interspersed with games, songs and other practical exercises. At the close of the programme the participants resolved that they would immediately go about forming SHGs in Karave village. A training workshop will be held for these newly formed groups on November 25, 2009 at Don Bosco, Nerul.


Lyra Pinto, DBDS
The biggest preparation needed was a change of heart.

October was marked in red letters on all our calendars. It was the month for the crucial ‘planning’ Gram Sabhas, in which the NREGA works for the coming year would be decided. In more than 30 villages for more than a month, people had held meetings, planned, argued, attended training sessions, made lists, changed the lists, argued some more, and had finally zeroed in on what they really wanted for their villages in the coming year.

What was left, however, was that change of heart. Even among the leaders whom people had chosen to speak at the Sabhas, few actually believed, really completely believed, that they could have a say in local affairs. That control over the development of their village could be in their hands. Years of being ignored, threatened, and lied to by government officials had killed their belief in themselves. Still, people agreed to attend the Gram Sabhas and present their plans.

And then October came. What a joke! A Central Government circular declaring the start of the ‘Year of the Gram Sabha’ ordered that all Gram Sabhas be held on 2nd October instead of on the appointed dates. The order had been carelessly delayed at the district level, and reached the various blocks only on 1st October.

With no time left to change the dates or inform people, the block level authorities in Chhota Udepur promptly created registers showing miraculously high attendance at all the imaginary 2nd October Gram Sabhas. In Kawant, the Gram Sabhas actually continued according to schedule for a few days, till the authorities realised that such an order had been passed. In Jambughoda, the block officials had no clear idea what to do, and so declared that all Sabhas had been properly conducted on 2nd October. In Alirajpur, no one yet knows what happened. And in Kapadvanj, the authorities simply claimed they knew nothing about it at all and continued life as usual.

But for people in the villages, something had changed. This was not just another meeting that they hadn’t been told about. It was one they had given a lot of time and energy to prepare for. And talking to them a few days after the whole incident, we realised the reason for this change. People are angry, upset at being cheated, and determined to make themselves heard. With this anger comes a new courage, and with this courage, the conviction that the will of the people is stronger than any lazy officer or any stamped piece of paper.

The change of heart is finally here.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Natasha Almeida
The batch of July ’09 of the Bosco Plus skills training programme concluded at Don Bosco Matunga with 24 youth successfully completing their training in basic life skills, spoken English, computer skills and retail management. From those who had lost their jobs recently to students who had dropped out during their school or undergraduate studies, these young people from the slums of Mumbai were eager to learn the skills that would enable them to secure decent employment.

A valedictory function to formally mark the end of the course was held on September 24, 2009 at the A.V Hall at the Provincial House, Matunga. This certificate distribution ceremony was held on behalf of Bosco Plus and Tata Trent Ltd., who collaborated with the former in conducting examinations and interviews with the students. The event was graced by the Guest of Honour Mr. Nirmal Naik, Senior HR Manager, Tata Trent Ltd. Besides the team from the Mumbai Development Office, in attendance for the event were Fr. Savio Silveira, Mr. Robin Thomas, Program Co-ordinator, Tata Trent Ltd. and Mr. Niranje Amte, Examiner of Retail Management at the Garware Institute. The event commenced with the opening address by Ms. Surekha Pednekar from the Development Office which was followed by a welcome song by students of the current batch.

Fr. Savio Silveira in his address mentioned the only objective of Bosco Plus was to train the students for a period of two months and help them secure a job. Mr. Niranje Amte, in his address spoke about ‘Reviving and Revising’. Drawing from his long experience and citing a simple example of the Hare and Tortoise story he mentioned that even slow learners are helpful in winning the race. It’s Co-operation and not competition that wins at the end of the day. Mr. Robin Thomas whilst addressing the students said that the facilitators will only provide the resources for the battle but the ultimate battle on the field has to be fought by the students themselves.

Mr. Nirmal Naik, the chief guest who presented the students with their certificates, encouraged them to make the most of what they have learned and to build their careers one step at a time. After giving them a brief idea about the retail sector he encouraged the students to sort out their queries.

The vote of thanks was delivered by Sagar, a student of the July batch who secured an over all first position. He expressed his gratitude towards the course facilitators and thanked them whole heartedly for their support. The students in turn expressed their determination to sharpen their skills at every opportunity. Kudos to the Bosco Plus team who are surely headed towards Saksham!

Monday, September 21, 2009


Lyra Pinto
The staff of five centres in the Gujarat region—Kawant, Chhota Udepur, Alirajpur, Narukot and Kapadvanj—gathered in Kawant for a training session conducted by the Unnati Organisation for Development Education, in preparation for the upcoming October Gram Sabhas in Gujarat.

The 31 staff members who attended the programme took full advantage of the opportunity to clarify their doubts regarding the procedures of Gram Sabhas and the planning of works under the NREGA. Their field experience in dealing with these topics over the last one year threw up many interesting questions, and also enabled them to explore possible solutions to the problems dogging the smooth functioning of the NREGA and Panchayat Raj Institutions in their villages.

The resource persons, Mr. Roshan and Mr. Jasmin, also described Unnati’s experiences and strategies for strengthening the people through Gram Sabhas. By means of a detailed explanation followed by an analytical exercise, they went on to train the participants in facilitating social audits of the NREGA through Gram Sabhas. The programme ended with a question and answer session during which the participants were able to clarify some of the finer points involved in the NREGA planning process.

The staff who took part in the session came away with clearer knowledge and increased confidence in their ability to empower NREGA workers in their villages through Gram Sabhas.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Manisha Kande
Bosco Yuva Sanghtana organized a three days residential training programme on NREGA and role of Panchayati Raj Institutions for the village animators at Walvanda centre, Taluka- Jawhar from September 11- 13, 2009. The purpose of the training was to strengthen the animator’s capacity and elucidate their role at the village level. 43 animators from Jawhar and Mokhada block attended and participated in the training. The resource persons were Mr. Saby Francis and Mr. Arun Hivale from Organization SPREAD.
The emphasis was laid on the Perspective Building of the animators, on social development, the situation of the tribal community by using different methods like Venn diagrams and games.
Dr. Anil Patil, professor at the Jawhar K.V. College, addressed the animators on the Adivasi lifestyle with live examples and strongly clarified their role at the village level. It was an inspirational and motivational session for the animators.

The resource person engaged the participants in the ‘SHRAMDAN’work for one hour as their self activity. During the break the animators played a game on unity which helped them to understand their capacity and their imaginative ideas. In the evening a play on social issues was organized by Sir Kanat with assistance from the Vakadpada group. The play focused on spreading awareness at the village level by effective use of media. A movie on NREGA named ‘Jau tithe khau’ was also screened. The movie very well portrayed the corruption behind the scheme.
The last day of the training started with the folk Adivasi action song ‘Aamhi Adivasi por’ by a participant. The resource person gave inputs on MREGS and NREGA. Mr. Melvin Pangya explained the main provision under this Act and the work proposed in the Gramsabha by villagers. The training enhanced the knowledge of the animators to think in a positive way and work effectively in the villages.
The training ended with the action plan of work by every animator for six months on awareness building at village level and creating a network for activities of the Gram Sabhas. One animator from each centre shared their experiences about the training.

Friday, September 11, 2009


KAPADVANJ, SEPTEMBER 10, 2009: On September 5, 2009, Don Bosco, Kapadvanj organized a training program on the Gram Sabha. From the selected eight villages to be the model in the Kapadvanj Taluka, there were 82 men and women present. The training aimed to empower people and prepare them for the forth coming Gram Sabha.
Beginning with the welcome at 11a.m with a power point presentation on Gram Sabha, social worker Nikunj Parmar explained the participants the basic details of the Gram Sabha. Most of the participants had never attended a Gram Sabha and admitted of not knowing its functions.

The women present for the training program honestly said that they thought women were not allowed to attend any Sabha. During the power point presentation many of them raised questions about a Samiti.

After the presentation a movie on Gram Sabhas was screened. Post lunch Fr. Mayank Parmar spoke about various ways to take village problems to the higher authorities’ during the Sabha and the importance of NREGA in Gram Sabha.

The most interesting part of the training was the mock Gram Sabha. During this session Fr. Isaac posed as the Talati, Fr. Mayank as Sarpanch and the staff members as Gram Panchayat members. The social worker conducted the Sabha. The participants learnt how a Sabha was held and what responsibilities do different Samitis carry.

The participants were cleared of their doubts and were immensely grateful to Don Bosco, Kapadvanj for organizing the training programme. The training ended with the vote of thanks delivered by social worker Nikunj Parmar.


Daskshayani Madangopal
: The R&D department of Shelter Don Bosco, Matunga conducted an animated Workshop for Social Workers as Counsellors on the September 9, 2009, for 18 Mumbai based NGOs working with children, youth, slum communities, commercial sex workers, domestic workers and those working with children in municipal schools. 40 participants from these various backgrounds attended a very effective, animated and interactive workshop.

The workshop was initiated by Fr. Barnabe D’Souza. The sessions were conducted by Prof. Tarana Pitawala of SNDT University and Director of Sinara Education and Career Counselling Insitute and Ms. Rupal Vador co-author of a Manual “Social Workers as Counsellors” by the R&D, published by Tejprasarini.

Prof. Pitawala got the group involved in practical nuances of counselling in their situations in the field. There were several sessions in getting the participants taking roles of the ‘counselled and counsellor,’ counselling skills in listening, rapport building, assessing the problem and goal setting, understanding the situation and responding accordingly.

Ms. Vador went through the Manual ‘Social Workers as Counsellors’ with the participants on how to use the manual in their settings. Each participant was given a copy of the manual. This prompted the participants to request for the other manuals of the R&D centre.

Fr. Barnabe introduced the FINO Savings cum identity card to the participants and gave them an opportunity to discuss it with their Directors to take it further for implementation in their organizations.

The Workshop ended with an announcement of a follow up workshop on October 10, 2009, in Maria Ashiana, Lonavla for the NGOs of Pune district on the same topic and a soon to be released (October) manual on ‘Eliciting People’s participation in Community Development’ a research based manual on Shelter Don Bosco’s experience of working for urban and rural communities.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Natasha Almeida
A cultural programme and felicitations marked Teachers’ Day celebrations on Saturday, September 5, 2009 at the Maschio Centre, Matunga. The celebrations were organized by Don Bosco Development Society to felicitate teachers from the community centres at Mahim and Matunga and Bosco Plus at Dharavi.
Amidst the chatter of the excited children, students who had gathered from different areas welcomed Fr. Edwin D’souza, Guest of Honour and the teachers by way of an aarti. Soon after a short cultural programme followed which saw the students put up songs and dances in appreciation for their teachers. In their own way the students not only entertained but also provided valuable information about the origins and history of the Teachers Day celebrations in India.
Fr. Edwin D’souza, in his address made a mention of two important words that the children need to use towards their teachers, namely, ‘Thank You’ and ‘I Love You’. He also said that the best gift a student could give a teacher would be that of excelling in their studies and other activities.
In the end floral tributes were handed over to the teachers. At a time when the country struggles to give teachers their due recognition, in a small corner of Mumbai, these under privileged children with twinkling eyes came forward in gratitude and humility to appreciate their teachers – their second mothers. The aisles of Maschio Centre echoed of ‘Thank you teacher’ long after the children had left for their homes.


Natasha Almeida
On Friday, September 4, 2009, Don Bosco Development Society (DBDS) organized a one day
workshop at Dharavi, in association with Ekvira Mitra Mandal, a community organization. The workshop focused on developing and promoting awareness about RTI among women who are part of the Self Help Groups and the Tailoring Course at Mahim and Dharavi, as well as providing a platform for these women to interact with each other.

Along with the 120 women, present for the workshop, was Fr. Elson Baretto, Director of DBDS and Fr. Savio Silveira, Executive Director DBDS. Fr. Elson, in his motivational address made mention of an anecdote ‘Ghar ka malik kaun?’ This got the women all ears for the workshop.
The resource person for the day was Mr. Praful Shinde, a leading RTI activist for the last twenty years from Sampark Sanstha. Mr. Shinde, a former resident of Dharavi, mentioned that he felt more than comfortable to deal with women coming from a place where he resided earlier. After giving a brief history of the origins of the RTI Act, Mr. Shinde step by step dealt with the whole process of RTI. The four hours workshop also consisted of an open forum for the women to raise questions and clear any doubt about the RTI. Issues ranging from education to poverty and governance were raised, with the women showing awareness about various social and general issues in their neighbourhood.
Surekha Pednekar, from Don Bosco Development Society, said, "This workshop was primarily designed to allow the women from the slum areas to learn about this tool and allow them to solve any doubts they may have about its operation."
Shweta Bharati, a resident of Mahim who participated at the workshop said, “I am thankful to DBDS and more than happy to have attended this workshop. This information will surely help me and my fellow residents to deal with the water issues in our area. We not only learnt about RTI, but also got to know the mindsets of women from different areas and their views."
In conclusion, Ms. Pednekar delivered the vote of thanks. The women left the community centre high on energy already discussing how to make the best use of the information they have received.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Gregory Almeida sdb
KAWANT, AUGUST 29, 2009:
August 27, 2009, marked a major event for Don Bosco Kawant, as the students of Standard IX visited Singalda village to witness a Gram Sabha LIVE!

Before visiting the village, the students were briefed about the importance and purpose of Gram Sabhas through two short videos dealing with the benefits of attending Gram Sabhas and the practical problems that people face while participating in them.

The students were welcomed by the Sarpanch and Talati of the village, and were given a place of honour at the very front of the gathering! As the meeting progressed, it was obvious that the officials were making a special effort to conduct the proceedings properly and answer people’s questions, even if it was only an attempt to leave a good impression on the children! The people of the village were also happy to have the students in their midst, and this strengthened their resolve to participate actively in future programmes.
At the meeting, the students were able to put all their classroom knowledge of Panchayat systems into perspective, as they witnessed first-hand the way in which government systems function in the villages. The experience helped them understand that although many factors prevent people from claming their rights, they can move towards empowerment by insisting on participating in Panchayati Raj institutions.

With the Governance Project taking shape in our province through a focus on the NREG and Panchayati Raj, this visit helped the students realize that it is their turn to return to their villages and participate in programmes such as the Gram Sabha. While many students leave the village after completing their studies, today’s experience helped the children understand that proper guidance, organized strength and leadership can also enable people in the rural areas to live a dignified life.
Attending the Gram Sabha reminded these future leaders of their responsibility towards their villages. The entire experience recalled the story of the film ‘Swades’, wherein the educated hero returns to his village to lead his people to a just form of development. And at Don Bosco Kawant, the time has come for our young people to return to the villages to bring about a CHANGE FOR BETTER LIVING.


Gregory Almeida
27th August 2009, Kawant

For the first time in the history of Don Bosco Kawant, development has taken a new shape—empowerment through Gram Sabhas.

A couple of months ago while reading the newspaper, I came across the shocking news that Kawant is the most backward taluka in the state of Gujarat. How could this be possible? We have been working in this area for more than 25 years. Where has the development work gone? Were the facts and figures mentioned in the newspaper correct? These questions pushed me to look at the latest website regarding the Gujarat government’s tribal development programmes. I was once again surprised to find that it had no information about Kawant taluka. Most of the funds allotted for tribal development are being used for security training.

This year, Don Bosco Development Society has initiated a project called the Community Ownership of Governance Initiative. The aim of this project is to enable rural communities to participate fully in local self governance and thereby access the institutions and policies that are meant to serve them. And these policies can be effective only when people participate in Panchayati Raj Institutions and Gram Sabhas. The Gram Sabha is a useful platform for people to voice their concerns and mobilize their resources for the development of their villages.

During the last month, I was happy to witness Gram Sabhas in a few villages in Kawant taluka. The main objective of these Sabhas is People’s Empowerment. They are an opportunity for the poor and the marginalized to rise up economically, socially and politically. It’s a place where they can ask for information on various programmes and schemes, and review the ongoing works in their village.

We are now adopting an approach which enables people to realize that it is their right to get the State support that they need to improve their life. The awareness of different programmes and schemes could be the starting point to bringing a major change in their lives. Youngsters in the villages can be motivated and trained to become capable talatis, sarpanchs and mamlatdars who will implement these programmes and schemes correctly. Right leadership with a proper value system is the key to change in the villages.

I have few suggestions for those interested in such an approach:
1. Acquire total knowledge of the issue or programme in question. This is crucial because the officials in these areas exploit the fact that most people are uneducated; even the talatis and the sarpanchs do not completely understand these programmes and are not interested in implementing them.

2. Encourage educated people to take part in the Gram Sabhas. This includes individuals such as teachers in the village school and rural health workers.

3. Ensure total involvement of the people. Make sure that people are informed about their Gram Sabhas at least 15 days in advance and are prepared through role plays, discussions and other methods.

4. Check the implementation of resolutions. Every ‘tharaav’ passed in the Gram Sabha should be followed up at the village, taluka and district levels.

5. School children should be taught about Gram Sabhas. These children are the future leaders of the village, the ones who can guide the better implementation of village programmes. Prepare them to be talatis and mamlatdars and local leaders.

6. Clarify the role of the organization. The organization’s function should be that of animating and guiding the people, creating awareness about their rights and duties, and enabling them to secure their dues.

7. Teach youngsters in the village to access and disseminate information. Young people can be taught how to use computers and study various schemes that can be implemented in their area.

8. Focus on building unity in the community. This is necessary to get any resolution passed and carried out.

I believe the best is yet to come, wherein all the people begin to realize the importance of Gram Sabhas as a tool for Empowerment and Development.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Melvin Pangya
Bosco Yuva Sanghatana, Borivli organized a three days training program on Self Help Groups for the poor and marginalized women from Shivaji Nagar. Thirty five women from Gouri Nagar, Shivaji Nagar and Sai Dham slums attended this training programme.

The training began with the lighting of the lamp by Fr. Anaclete D’mello and Fr. Anthony Santarita. Mr. Melvin Pangya introduced brief the organization and its various initiatives in the province. He mentioned that the organization not only works in urban but also to reaches out to the poor and marginalized groups in the tribal areas. Fr. Anaclete, in his address encouraged the women and said that It was indeed commendable that women from Shivaji Nagar came together to learn about Self Help Groups. He added that the organization is ready to expand the support not only women but also wants to reach out to youth and children of the area.
The session began with the introduction of the participants by way of an ice breaker. The women actively participated in the training. Societal analysis, concepts and importance of SHG’s and how to conduct meetings were the areas that were touched upon in the training.
Mrs. Anju Limbachiya one of the participants expressed her gratitude and said that the training served as an eye opener. The participants have assured that they would willingly work under the guidance of the organization. The training helped to clarify their many doubts related to SHG’s. The training ended with the song “Hum Honge Kamyab”.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Natasha Almeida
MUMBAI, AUGUST 19, 2009: The scorching heat of the Mumbai sun and the dusty air did not deter the spirits of the women from the slums of Dharavi who had gathered on the afternoon of August 17, 2009 at the Ekvira Mitra Mandal community centre for the inaugural tailoring class.
“Aaj class ka pehla din hain”, chirped Laxmi, a housewife from Dharavi. She and her friends were visibly enthusiastic about their first day at the class. Other than the sixty women who had gathered at the community centre, Fr. Savio Silveira, Mr. Jairam Chowgule from Ekvira Mitra Mandal, Mr. Vijay Rajput, Mr. Sunil Katkar and Mr. Manish Daliya from Vijay Apparels; Mr. Arun Birade from the Apparel Training and Designing Centre were present for the inauguration ceremony.
Ms. Surekha Pednekar from the Mumbai Development office delivered the welcome address after which floral tributes were presented to the guests. The afternoon saw the women students perform an aarti for the machines while the breaking of the coconut to ward off evil followed. In her introductory address Ms. Pednekar mentioned the keen interest of these women to learn tailoring. The women wanted to contribute to their partners earnings so that their children would be able to have a better education.
Fr. Savio, in his address mentioned that only screaming and shouting slogans for women empowerment on Women’s Day is not enough. He added that they needed to move ahead by developing skills. Mr. Chowgule from Ekvira Mitra Mandal gave a simple yet interesting example about a vehicle with two wheels. He compared the vehicle with life and the two wheels to a husband and a wife. In order that the vehicle should function well both the wheels need to be in balance. In the same way, even a husband and wife need to support each other. If the wife develops her skills and contributes to the income of the family, the whole family will benefit. Apart from the tailoring course Don Bosco Development Society also trains for basic computer skills and spoken English at the same community centre at Dharavi which benefits youth and children from the surrounding locality.

After the tailoring course jobs will be provided to these women by Raj Apparels. Visits to factories will also be arranged as the course progresses. These classes will be held regularly for the next two months. It is commendable to see these women balance out their household chores and their regular classes. Don Bosco Development Society is surely heading towards Saksham- women empowerment in all fields.


Subhash Shirsath
CHHOTA UDEPUR, AUGUST 18, 2009: S. F. School ground, at Chhotaudepur
was abuzz with activity on August 4, 2009, as more than fifteen thousand tribals gathered for the Rally and Jahir Sabha for Tribal Rights of Forest Land and Forest Assets under Forest Act of 2006 organised by the Adhivasi Mahasabha, Gujarat on World tribal Day. Apart from the tribals, 39 NGO partner- members of Adhivasi Mahasabha from Vadodara, Dahod and Panchmahals districts, 69 Van Adhikari Samitee members and tribal farmers from villages of Jambughoda and Halol talukas participated in this rally.

In this rally, the tribal people were seen with banners, posters and shouting slogans. A sharing session at the rally brought out the grievances the young and old faced with the forest department. After which the Adhivasi Mahasabha’s team members made the people aware of their rights.

Fr. Xavier, who has been working for tribal development for the last 20 years, was the resource person for the day. Drawing from his long and rich experience in this movement, he shared several interesting issues with the people. He emphasized the need of coming together and fighting back to tackle common problems. Fr. Xavier finalized 14 issues of forest land farming and land issues of 10,000 tribal farmers which have been submitted to the Regional Collector.The rally ended with the traditional performance of a tribal dance.


Subhash Shirsath
NARUKOT, AUGUST 18, 2009: A workshop on Hand Pump Repairing was organized by Don Bosco Education Society, Narukot in collaboration with Gujarat Jal-seva Talim Kendra, Gandhinagar, from July 28 to July 30, 2009. This workshop was specially designed forthe youth of Jambhughoda Taluka .

Mr. G. K. Chug, Chief Executive Training Officer- GJTI and Fr. Brian Boothello, Vice Rector Narukot Education Society were among others who inaugurated workshop. Mr. G. K. Chug motivated the youth to change their attitude of callousness and take the initiative to protect public property.

The first day of training the participants learnt the basic set up and expansion of their own enterprises using their newly-acquired skills, handpump cleaning and care, tools of handpump repairing and methods of handpump installation. The next day of the training, the participants had indoor practical sessions of installing hand pumps. After which, all trainees were divided into three groups through which they repaired seven hand pumps in Jambughoda, Narukot and Jhaban villages. On the last day of the workshop, three hand pumps were repaired in Narukot village.

In conclusion a valediction programme was organized wherein the participants received certificates and reading material. The participants agree to take their newly acquired skill forward by repairing the hand pumps of their own village. 55 youth from 25 villages have benefitted from this workshop. Considering that hand pumps are a necessity in every village, the course will enable the young people to maintain the assets of their village and build a sustainable livelihood for themselves.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Anand Raj
MUMBAI, AUGUST 14, 2009: Don Bosco Centre for Learning (DBCL), Kurla, organized the meeting of Principals of the Technical Training Institutes in the Mumbai Province on August 13, 2009. The meeting began with a prayer song, after which Fr. Adolph Furtado, Director of DBCL welcomed all the participants. In the first session of the day Fr. Savio Silveira made a presentation on the emerging trends in the Indian economy and their impact on youth. He spoke about the growth that India is witnessing in the manufacturing and service sectors, the demographic dividend that India enjoys, and the skills gap that the country is facing. He further went on to explain the National Policy on Skills Development and the role that DB Tech India wished to play in the national skills mission.

In the next session Mr. Amar Patinkond, Principal of St. Joseph’s Industrial Training Institute oriented the participants on the Modular Employable Skills (MES) programme. He explained the salient features of the scheme and emphasized the importance of this programme in the skill development sector today. He presented a few concepts and ideas involved in delivering quality training to the young through these short-term programmes.

During the post-lunch session, Mr. Soman, Principal of Don Bosco Maritime Academy explained the role that DBCL would play in the monitoring and evaluation of the Technical Institutes in the province. Drawing from his experience, he elaborated the responsibility of each institute in the province in promoting quality and need based technical education. In the discussion that followed, all the participants were in consensus to treat the following areas with top priority: attention to improve quality in the training, need for taking up short term courses with government linkages, scaling up the number of students, strategies for sustainability of programmes and better-coordinated placement services. The meeting concluded on an enthusiastic note with the participants expressing their resolve to take the skills development sector in the province to new heights.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Sangmitra Shirodkar

MUMBAI, AUGUST 14, 2009: The Shelter Don Bosco Research Centre (R&D), Matunga conducted workshops between August 10 and 13, 2009. Three major workshops were held on Basic Research Techniques for Co-ordinators/ Social Workers, Critical Field Reflection/ Analysis for Field workers and Advanced Practices of SPSS (Quantitative) and NVivo (Qualitative) Packages. The workshops were excellently executed by Dr. Bipasha Biswas, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, St. Louis, Missouri (USA).

The staff members from Balprafulta, Development Office, Shelter Don Bosco and the R&D participated in these different workshops and had a lot to contribute as well as learn in the interactive sessions. Dr. Biswas gave an insightful orientation to the Micro system that social work is done in. She provided that work done even with individuals has to be referred to in the Meso system, the Exo and the Macro system. The workshops dealt with deisgning and managing small scale immediate field studies. It helped field workers to critically analyze their field interventions, reflect on their cases during report writing and consequently bring more effective inputs to their reports and the organizations’ interventions.

The three workshops were aptly culminated with field visits and meetings with groups from the various community sites of the displaced populations the R&D has been involved with. An enriching experience through which the participants understood that work interventions need to be more effective and focused.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Melvin Pangya WALVANDA, AUGUST 13, 2009: Bosco Yuva Sanghatana organized a three days residential workshop for the Grampanchayat Members on August 7- 9, 2009 at Walvanda centre, Jawhar on the Importance of NREGA and Role of Panchayati Raj Institutions. The purpose of the workshop was to strengthen the Gram Panchayat members to implement the NREGA Act at the village level and allow the participants to have a better understanding about the Local Self Government. Forty three participants attended and participated in the workshop.

The inauguration of the workshop began with the traditional lightening of the lamp by the Sarpanch, Mrs. Sunanda Laxman Geval and other Panchayat members. The resource person from SPARSH- Center for participatory learning gave inputs on perspectives of Development and Poverty. The session was focused on explaining the NREGA Act: its main features, different formats, the administrative structures to lodge complaints. It also dealt with the role of GramPanchayat and importance of Gram Sabhas. The session was well executed and the participants visibly had their doubts cleared.

In the end Fr. Anaclete D’mello addressed the panchayat members and spoke about the role of the members in creating awareness. He also perceived that each family should have a Job card. He mentioned that there should be more participation from women to be present at the Gramsabha and demand for the work.

The Panchayat members were encouraged and enlightened about this workshop. Mr Mahadu Khirari, Sarpanch from Aase expressed that the workshop really helped them to understand the role of Gram panchayat in the village development. Participants pledged to take active part in awareness building.

The workshop ended with the lighting of the candle by each participant- a sign of spreading awareness in tune with the song “Hum Honge Kamyab”.


Gregory Almeida sdb
KAWANT, AUGUST 13, 2009: For 145 SHG leaders and community members from the villages of Kawant, August 12, marked one of the first achievements in their efforts to secure their rights under the NREGA. The programme, organized by the DISHA social work team, began with a screening of a film explaining the Act and its implementation. This was followed by a short session in which Fr. Gregory, the director of the DISHA team, introduced the objectives of the day’s programme and encouraged people to participate actively and share their experiences.
The Chief Guest for the day was Mr. Manish Patel, the Deputy Programme Officer for the NREGA from the District Rural Development Agency, Vadodara.The next session comprised a set of case studies, in which people from various villages presented the status of the NREGA in their area and the problems that they face in securing work and wages under this Act. It was encouraging to see that some people had come prepared with their questions and did not hesitate to speak confidently to the Programme Officer.

In the last session, Mr. Patel addressed the questions raised by the people and suggested solutions that they can use to claim their rights. He also made immediate note of two cases and assured the complainants that he would take up the issue with the concerned authorities. He then went on to explain some of the processes involved in the implementation of the Act, such as the appointment of supervisors at the village level, the opening of accounts and the release of funds at the District, State and Block levels.At the end of the programme, the participants came away with a sense that it is possible to make the government machinery function the way it should. The DISHA staff also gained a better understanding of this law and how they can enable people to use it effectively.


Melvin Pangya

MUMBAI, AUGUST 12, 2009: The afternoon of August 11, 2009, saw the collaboration of Jan Shikshan Sanstha and Babali Pada Rahivashi Seva Sangha with Bosco Yuva Sanghatana with an objective of empowering women from the slum area of Babali Pada. More than fifty enthusiastic women gathered for the inauguration at the Empowerment Centre which will conduct a full fledged practical training in the field of tailoring. Fr. Anaclete D’mello graced the occasion as the chief guest.

The inaugural function commenced with the welcoming of guests by a traditional aarti. The opening address was delivered by Mr. Gajanan Gavade who introduced the chief guest and the other honorable guests. He stated the goals of the organization which focuses on empowering the marginalized women by making them independent. Mr. Melvin Pangya briefed the participants on the merits of the organization and its various initiatives in the filed of social development. He categorically mentioned that the organization intends to work not only with women but also the marginalized youth in our society.

One of the participants Mrs. Manisha Bamane took the opportunity to thank the organization for its dignified work in the field of women empowerment. She also mentioned that the local Mandal has done comendable work by collaborating with Don Bosco.In his address Fr. Anaclete thanked the local mandal for giving the opportunity to work with them. He further elaborated on the spectrum of opportunities that lies not only within the slums of Mumbai but also with the tribal’s of Thane District. One of the programmes in the pipeline is a course for the unemployed youth in spoken English, Computer Education and Life Skills.

Mr. Dayanand Patil, a Development Office staff member reiterated the eagerness of the committee in ensuring success of this programme by mobilizing the local mandals. The programme concluded with the vote of thanks to all its members.


Natasha Almeida
MUMBAI, AUGUST 11, 2009: It all began when a few teenage girls from the slums of Vadala, Kings Circle and Matungas Labour Camp approached the field workers of Don Bosco Development Society and expressed their desire to learn a basic skill that would help them run their households and benefit them in the long run. The girls, all between the ages of 15- 23 years, most of who were school drop outs or married at an early age showed eager interest in making good use of their free time which was otherwise whiled away at home.

Don Bosco Development Society, therefore, took a step ahead and initiated a basic Beautician and Tailoring course in collaboration with Janshikshan Sanstha from Dharavi, which was inaugurated on August 7, 2009, at the Maschio Centre, Matunga in the presence of Frs. Edwin D’souza and Savio Silveira. A total of 15 girls have enrolled for the Tailoring course while 17 girls have enrolled for the Beautician course. Janshikshan Sanstha has provided two female facilitators for the both the courses.

The inauguration was held in a very traditional way. In true Indian style by the breaking of the coconut all evil was warded off, the ribbon was cut and the aarti conducted by one of the students. The welcome address was delivered by Ms. Surekha Pednekar from the Mumbai Development Office in which she spoke about the actual motto of starting off with these courses. Fr. Edwin D’souza in his address was ever welcoming for any sort of help required. He also mentioned that the space provided should be utilized well and efforts put in should show fruits. Fr. Savio Silveira added that this would be a new beginning for the girls and that they should take one step at a time to achieve greater heights.

The inauguration ceremony paved the way for the first class which was held on the same evening. The girls showed keen interest. Surely, this venture which will last for two months will prove beneficial for them in the long run to provide for themselves and their families. A new beginning that sparked off as a desire will eventually lead to fulfillment of their dreams.