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
info@bosconet.in.