“Project Journey 2008 to INH” by Silvia Cromm and Claudia Moll – 2nd to 10th March 2008

Ms. Silvia Cromm, Head of the Project Department and Claudia Moll Project Officer from JDW, Bonn, Germany paid a visit to our province from 2nd to 10th March 2008. It was the second visit for Silvia Cromm to INH province whereas it was the first visit for Claudia Moll. Fr. Bellamkonda Sudhakar Director of BSK, Development office received them at Chennai. The visit was primarily to have a first hand experience of projects and activities financed by JDW, Bonn, Germany.

The Journey began from Nellore visiting the Don Bosco Navajeevan contact Centre. Fr. Putti Anthaiah, received the guests at the railway station. The children and staff welcomed the guests very warmly with garlands and shawls. The same afternoon, we reached Kavali to visit the Tsunami Education Project activities. Mr. Job, State Coordinator of the project, Mr. Prabhudas, Nellore Dt. Coordinator and Mr. Ramanjinyulu, Prakasam Dt. Coordinator accompanied us, during our visit to the Tsunami Education Project centres.

Mar08_021. Bangarupalem 2. Pathapalem 3. Musunuru and 4. Gowravaram (S.T. colony). At Musunuru children demonstrated how to organize “CHILDREN PARLIAMENT”. We had a cultural show at Gowravaram (S.T. colony). The people of this locality are considered most neglected and unorganized however; BSK made every effort to motivate and rehabilitate the children from this target area and is already giving basic education.

As a token of appreciation to the BSK team here, the local MRO has came forward and allotted housing plots as part of a housing scheme to build their own house. The children of the same colony put up a programme for the visitors and it was very interesting and well appreciated. Along the visitors, we also had the presence of Village Sarpanch (President), Ward member, MPTC members and village elders.

Mar08_03On 3rd March 2008, students of Don Bosco, Ongole welcomed the guests with garlands and Fr. Mathew Kandipara, the Director expressed sincere gratitude to the visitors for their support to construct a residence for the boys. The visitors expressed their satisfaction over the construction of the hostel building. We also made a visit to Auxilium convent where young girls from the marginalized communities are getting trained in Tailoring and Maggam embrodary. The children also expressed their sentiments of gratitude to the visitors through their cultural programme. The visitors were all appreciation for the training provided and wished them for their future. Later we moved around 10.30am towards Singaraikonda Mandal where we have just completed the second phase of water works as part of the Tsunami water projects. We visited Devalampalepallem, New Devalampalepallem and Shanthinagar and the people of these three hamlets especially women were all praise for having provided them good and safe drinking water.

After lunch we started towards BIRD (Bosco Integral Rural Development) centre, Guntur. Fr. Jayapaul, Rector of St. Micheal’s Boys’ Home, Guntur, welcomed the guests. The guests expressed their satisfaction about the work learned by the children as “INCREDIBLE”. Children expressed their gratitude with the cultural show.

Mar08_04We reached Don Bosco Premnivas, Managalgiri and the differently abled children were waiting to welcome Ms. Silvia and Ms. Claudia with a beautiful song and a family get-together. JDW, Bonn, Germany has been a great support for the well being of this institution. The visitors made an extensive visit to the Physiotherapy centre, Mayor’s Home and premises of Premnivas.

After lunch, we travelled to Nava Jeevan Bala Bhavan, Vijayawada. We reached Yuva Bhavan and Fr. Thomas Koshy the Executive Director, along with Fr. Michael, Ms. Anna – a volunteer from Germany and the children was waiting to welcome the guests with garlands. After a short meeting with Fr. Koshy Thomas, we moved towards to VIMUKTI (which means ‘Liberation’) – centre for de-addiction and rehabilitation of street children, at Nuzvid. We were accompanied by Fr. Michael and his team. It was an hour long journey from Vijayawada to Nuzvid. Fr. Michael, in-charge of this centre briefed us about this centre and Mr. Joseph; centre coordinator, shared the different rehabilitation programmes offered here.

On 5th March 2008, the guests made their visit to child labour centers, which runs under the banner of Bala Vikasa Kendra (BVK). We were accompanied by Fr. Ignatius who is in-charge of BVK centers and his team. BVK has 10 branches of which we visited five centres. SETHU (means bridge) is a residential bridge school centre for girl children below 14 years. We also visited NAVEENA (meaning ‘new life’) which is a residential and non-residential vocational training centre for girls above 14years. They are given training in tailoring, hand embroidery, machine embroidery and beautician courses.

The guests visited CHINNARI (‘young child’), non-residential bridge school for both boys and girls below 14. From here, we proceeded to MANABADI (‘our school) a centre for the children found begging and is located on the outskirts of Vijayawada.

At VRUTHI VIDYA (‘Basic education with skills training’) – children who are above 14 years and are already employed are trained in their employed skills so that they could earn more. After lunch, we visited Navajeevan Bala Bhavan – Shelter Homes – where a training centre for two wheeler mechanism for street children above 14 years is located. We also visited the tailoring centre for senior street children at Pezzonipet.

Mar08_05In the evening we started our journey towards Ravulapalem with a brief stop at Vimala ITC at Tanuku where girls from Krishna and East Godavari of Education project are brought for the skill training with residential facilities. On reaching PARA, we had arousing welcome by the children with a kollattam. Fr. Thomas Pallithanam, Director of PARA, Fr. Pandicherry Joseph, Rector of Don Bosco, Ravulapalem, Fr. Papaiah, Asst. Director of PARA, Mr. Isaiah, Administrator of PARA along with other staff welcomed the guests. Fr. Thomas explained the different activities taken up at Ikkalavya training centre. The visitors interacted with different groups of people beginning with students who are receiving Human Rights Education at Don Bosco School, the differently abled youth, those who are self-employed with the support of the PARA, staff of MACS (Mutually Aided Cooperatives) and heard their experiences. Later the visitors met Fr. Pallithanam Thomas, Sr. Silve and Sr. Vandhana, Mrs. Swarnalatha, Mr. Venkat and Mr. Isaiah and had a final discussion on the impact of Human Rights Education in our schools and the government schemes available to the children.

We proceeded to Don Bosco, Peddaboddepalli from PARA. Fr. Rayappa, in-charge of the institute, along with his team and with some local collaborators welcomed the guests with traditional arathi and kunkkam. They also expressed their joy with a tribal traditional dance and bharthanatyam. FR. Rayappa presented the scope, vision and mission of the Salesian Community to the visitors.

The following day, on 7th March 2008, we started our journey to see some of the tribal villages. We were welcomed by the Sarpanch Mrs. P. Kanthamma of the Tajangi. We also had the inauguration of the tailoring centre. Women and youth of the village gathered for the programme. We visited Cheruvuveedhi a tribal hamlet. The entire village gathered and welcomed the visitors with their traditional dance. They also came out with requests for education and drinking water. We visited Chinnarajupakkala, another tribal village but could not spend much time here. The visitors were quite sure that the interventions that the Salesians were planning to make a difference in their lives. The short visit impressed upon us the need for the immediate intervention.

Mar08_06After a weeklong journey along the coast, we took Godavari superfast train and reached Hyderabad in the early hours of 8th March 2008, on the day of International Women’s Day. After breakfast the guests had a short meeting with Fr. Bellamkonda Sudhakar, Director – BSK, to clarify and to get some information about the province in general and in particular the on-going projects. The guests also had a short sharing with Mr. Luke who is running a livelihood project and made a short visit to the place and learnt its impact on the people in agriculture and rural employment. Directly from the farm house of Mr. Luke, we proceed towards Don Bosco Navajeevan, New Bhioguda, Secunderabad, where children put up a short cultural programme. After lunch we had short meeting with Fr. Salibindala Balashwory, Director. Then we proceeded to Don Bosco Re-habilitation Centre, Ramanthapur. Ms. Silvia Cromm had very vivid memories of her first visit to the place in 2004. She was quite satisfied with the developments over the years. We paid a short visit to the Transit Home, Nampally. We went to Lumbini Park to enjoy the famous Laser Show and on 9th March 2008, we visited Ramoji Film City. Ms. Silvia and Ms. Claudia took their flight back to Germany in the early hours of 10th March 2008.

To quote the impressions of Silvia Cromm, “In all the projects we visited we found a great sense of enthusiasm combined with experience and strategic planning. I was particularly impressed, because in all projects (Schools, bridge schools, vocational training, self help groups etc.,) a strong approach to empowerment and a clear orientation towards human rights is being kept. I will be happy to continue cooperation with Bosco Seva Kendra because I am convinced that this work of Don Bosco will bring about a change for the poor and marginalized in A.P”
Ms. Claudia Moll, who made her first visit to India, had this to say “I had not only the possibility to learn about the India, Culture and its people but also about the work of the Salesians in A.P. I must say I’m really impressed of all the project descriptions and experiencing them on the spot is totally different. I’m glad to see that in all the projects run by the Salesians, the target group (that Don Bosco once defined) is not only supported but also empowered to fight for its rights in order to lead a dignified life. I’m totally convinced of the work the SDBs in A.P are doing and wish them all the best.”