BIS #5929 Don Bosco Oratory at Don Bosco Provincial House Nurturing Lives Significantly During CoVID-19

by Father Glenford Lowe for BISMumbai

The Don Bosco Oratory at Provincial House, Matunga – Mumbai follows its tag line ‘Nurturing Lives Significantly’ to the full. With the COVID-19 pandemic taking the entire nation and the city of Mumbai by surprise, the Don Bosco Oratory followed with deep concern the plight of its youth. Knowing well that most come from the most impoverished vulnerable environments of the neighbourhood, the 1st concern was to ensure the practice of ‘stay safe, stay home, stay healthy' campaign. Through various social media platforms the regular messages were well received.

Even before the Rector Major’s invitation to “Let’s roll up our sleeves and ask what can we do?," the Don Bosco Oratory coordinators had already put some measures in place for DB Solidarity Vs COVID-19. Father Glenford Lowe approached the Provincial Economer to assist with rations for 180 Oratory Youth. The request was promptly granted. Together with Father McEnroe Lopes and Bro. Bryce Fernandes, the process was coordinated with Father Rolvin D’Mello, Executive Director of Don Bosco Development Society (DBDS), the Mumbai Salesians' Province Planning and Development Office [PDO]. Supplies reached within a few days. The very first outreach and distribution of relief kits containing rations for a month, toiletries and hygiene kits began at 04 different locations.

With the help and co-ordination of the senior DBO youth, others were mobilised in the 04 distribution hubs. Father Lopes and Bro. Fernandes began the distribution of relief kits at 60 feet road in Dharavi, the Dharavi Bus Depot area and the Sion Koliwada area. Father Lowe handled the relief operations at the

Don Bosco Provincial House Matunga, King's Circle, Wadala, Sewree and Antop Hill. 150 relief kits were distributed on 04 April 2020 to the Oratory Youth. To enable the ‘stay home, stay safe, stay healthy’ campaign to be more productive and meaningful, the Oratory started the ‘Stay Home Creatively’ project. The young people were invited to join various competitions in art, craft, dance, photography, yoga, physical drills and sporting skills. Attractive prizes were promised to all the winners. in the various age categories. Prabhjot Singh and Sakshi Tiwari were declared overall champions in the boys and girls’ categories. A second ‘Stay Home Creatively 2.0’ campaign was launched on 30 April with various competitions in rap, and beat-boxing, family-photo collage and sporting skills and drills. Lockdown definitely, but hope springs anew with the blossoming of new talents. Surely, DBO ‘nurtures lives significantly’.

With the extended COVID-19 lockdown a 02nd round of relief kits distribution was organised. Unfortunately, this time around, many had to wake up early in the morning and walk a few kilometres to reach Don Bosco Provincial House. Over a span of 04 days, from 29 April to 02 May 2020, another 100 relief kits were distributed. Meetu Singh, the mother of Jaskaran Singh, emotionally messaged, “Thank you Don Bosco for helping us by giving the necessary items. Cannot thank you enough. Your kind gesture of helping us in this critical situation is highly appreciated.” Nadar expressed his gratitude with these words, “May God bless you all and keep us fit and united. Thanks to the sponsors who are helping us without any exception,” and Aayush put it beautifully in just two words, “Noble work!”

On the flip side of these relief measures, something very noble on the part of some of our young people was made manifest. In receiving, they too have become caring people. Rihan Golandaz, 13, identified few migrants around his area in need of food and brought them to Don Bosco for help. Aaman, on reaching home decided to share more than half his rations with a neighbour. Rishab Viswakarma and Karan Jaiswal, the 02 young football coaches and oratory members, walked all the way from Dharavi Bus Depot carrying 02 ration bags to feed 10 migrant workers who were surviving on biscuits alone. Rupesh Sharma, Rupesh Vishwakarma and Rajesh Sharma were the other DBO beacons of sharing-caring reaching out to fellow migrants.Asif Khan came all the way once again to Don Bosco to request for a food packet for a friend in dire need. Salaam Rathod and Babu too, walked the extra mile to identify youngsters in need of rations and brought them to Don Bosco. In such times, it is the generous ones that will survive the onslaught of COVID 19. Don Bosco Solidarity Vs COVID-19 with Don Bosco guiding the Salesians and young people to ‘Nurture Lives Significantly’.