From an individual’s passion to an institution dedicated to causes, and then onwards to a global movement, BoscoNet has come a long way, and has benefitted millions of marginalised communities on its journey.
The story began over a century ago when on a cold morning of February, in 1827, fed up of the everyday struggles and quarrels in the family, a twelve-year-old boy named John Bosco left his home to look for work as a farm servant. Poverty had prevented him from getting much of a formal schooling – he received his education mainly from priests. They had liked the boy’s keenness to learn and explore.
Having to face life all by himself, John sympathised with orphaned children and helping them in whatever way possible became the only purpose of his life. He dedicated all his time to helping street children, juvenile delinquents, and other disadvantaged youth in Italy, the land of his birth. His passion became a movement and Don Bosco, as John was popularly known then, established a network of secular organisations and centres to carry on his work across the globe.
Established in India way back in 1906, BoscoNet is one of those organisations that follow Don Bosco’s mission as well as his methodologies to impact the lives of underprivileged children across the country. The organisation’s officials, in conversation with CauseBecause, shared how a few admirers and followers of the ‘Father of the Young’ as well as alumni and well wishers had come together to carry forward the vision and mission of Don Bosco.
Although the organisation works primarily
for street children and child labourers in India, BoscoNet also provides subsidised education – along with boarding facility – to thousands of orphaned and poor children. For school dropouts and unemployed youth, it engages in skill-development programmes. Working with marginalised communities at the grassroots, in the remotest parts of the country, BoscoNet realised the need for working with women as well. It soon initiated a programme to help women and children suffering from AIDS, tuberculosis, and leprosy. So as to empower women, it also facilitates self-help groups.
Technically, BoscoNet is the resource-mobilisation wing of All-India Don Bosco Society and says that it visualises a world where the less privileged of society, especially poor youth, women and children, do not miss out on their right to education. Established as a not-for-profit organisation, its primary source of sustenance is support in kind as well as donations from individual donors, large social foundations, and corporate social responsibility (CSR) contributions from some well-known Indian companies.
In order to understand the impact that their interventions are making, we decided to hear it from the recipients of their services. While it would not have been possible to reach out to all, we have collated here a few quotes from some of the beneficiaries of programmes that BoscoNet is trying to scale up.
- Bootlegging to motorbike repairing, to a film director hopeful
Over a decade ago, in a remote village of Uttar Pradesh, Amit had just joined school when he lost both his parents. His illiterate grandmother knew nothing better and started making illicit liquor and engaged this little boy in selling the same. So, for this boy, his education stopped before it could begin; growing up meant only survival by whatever legal or illegal means. His uncle also exploited him by making him work at a two-wheeler repair shop.
Team BoscoNet learnt of Amit’s plight through their grassroots workers and decided to admit him into Don Bosco Ashalayam in New Delhi. A proud member of the Bosco family now, Amit has already passed school and will soon graduate with a journalism degree. Probably, in the years to come, you will see his name scrolling on the cinema screen – ambitious Amit is determined to direct films.
BoscoNet has 87 centres across India wherein orphans like Amit get a chance to find and live their dream. Interestingly, a contribution of Rs 3,000 a month is all that one needs to make to ensure that another child comes in Bosco’s care.
- Abandoned by father and with no penny to spend, today this girl runs a construction company
Preety was admitted into DBSERI and on a much-subsidised fee she completed a three-year degree course in civil engineering – one of her many ambitious dreams was fulfilled. She was able to get a decent job, earning over Rs 35,000 a month.
That, though, was just the beginning of Preety’s career. At present, she is the owner of a construction company that boasts of contracts with not just several big companies but also the governments of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal.
Team Bosco takes pride in having scripted many such stories through DBSERI. Over two lakh students have graduated from 173 Don Bosco Tech Centres across India and almost all of them have found their professional calling.
- Once a rag-picker, now a promising actor, Lokesh is living his dream
The adversities that come with being born in the poorest of poor families make many children run away from their homes to look for greener pastures. Unfortunately, most of them land nowhere except in rags, in every sense of the word.
One such story is of Lokesh Kumar. He had ran away from home when he was just six. He
worked in the streets of Bengaluru as a rag-picker and slept on railway platforms, until he was found and adopted by Bangalore Oniyavara Seva Coota (BOSCO). The institution took him under its wings and encouraged him to study, explore, and develop his talents.
Today, Lokesh is a successful actor and a painter. ‘I want to help street children; even though there are many government programmes for their rehabilitation, they usually don’t reach the needy. I have faced sufferings that cannot be described, and I will try and help as many children as I can. I am grateful to BOSCO for giving me hope and confidence. Looking back, I realise that the support that I received from BoscoNet has helped me in
believing in myself,’ says Lokesh.
Team CauseBecause heard out dozens of such stories from BoscoNet. There are stories of women who joined self-help groups and are now able to run their houses better. There are stories of children whose healthcare expenses were borne by BoscoNet. Then there are so many others who are beginning their lives all over again when all that they ever had was devastated by natural disasters…
Any individual who wishes to join hands with BoscoNet can do so in kind or through donations. To know more about BoscoNet’s work, they can write to firstname.lastname@example.org.