BIS #6514 Don Bosco Lonavla's October High to Sweet November

by Father Blany Pinto for BISMumbai

Awareness and education are pivotal to a brighter future. Adivasis have long been victims of exploitation, and lack of education has incapacitated them to avail of the various government-social welfare schemes. A meeting was held on 05 October 2021, to help provide a platform to discuss and address this issue. The gathering of 50 village-leaders from Lonavla highlighted, expressed and shared the difficulties with Pravin Pardi of Birsa Brigade, that champions the adivasi cause.

On 08 October 2021, Candice David paid a visit to the village and sponsored ration for daily kichdi, along with biscuits, chocolates and juice packets, meant to be distributed to the children of the evening classes.

In October, the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana [PMJAY], a flagship scheme by the Government of India, that benefits villagers was discussed, and information was provided to help access the scheme. This month, once again the same was reiterated. The names of all interested and desirous to benefit from the scheme were passed onto the designated government officials. Each person had to pay Rs. 500 to obtain the card provided, with the help of which, people can get free treatment in empanelled hospitals. Nearly the entire village, after being enlightened by Ravi Shelke and Sonali Shelke, expressed eagerness to be part of the scheme.

Assumption George and her team of generous benefactor-volunteers visited the village and sponsored khichdi for the entire village for 02 months.

Father Barnabe D’souza and his team also visited the village on Sunday 31 October 2021 spending the entire morning with them. Candice David sponsored Diwali meal for the villagers and the team 'Spreading Smiles' sponsored blankets to be distributed in December for Christmas.

Of the 03 Don Bosco Lonavla-adopted villages, 02 of these have a primary school each, while 01 has 03 primary schools. The 05 schools in the 03 villages need to be painted, for which a kind donor has volunteered to partly fund the painting, while the Gram Panchayat will provide a portion of the requisite amount.

On the education front, many activities have been planned for the adults and children. One such activity is showing Marathi YouTube moral-stories followed by a discussion. A practical session on physical exercises and the benefits of such exercises was also held. Starting November, women yet to complete class 10, are assisted by the social outreach staff, to attempt the SSC exams. Social Media platforms, are being used, to teach and make education attractive.

One of the benefactors, Assumption George, has not only generously donated food but is also exploring ways of helping a little girl, aged 5, who is intelligent, able to hear, but has a speaking impairment, to get the necessary medical assistance.