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!