BIS #6578 Don Bosco Nerul celebrates 1st Anniversary of its Community Fridge

by Assumption Geroge& Diana D'Souza for BISMumbai

On 31 January 2022, Don Bosco, Nerul celebrated the 1st anniversary of its Community Fridge - “Don Bosco Cares” having distributed over 50,000 meals free of cost to the hungry and needy of the area. Our aim was to alleviate hunger in the neighborhood. This pandemic has been tough for many especially the marginalized and migrant community. Don Bosco felt the need to reach out to the neighborhood especially people who could not afford even a single meal or had difficulties with earning or accessing food due to lack or loss of employment, wanted to get food, without losing their dignity to go begging but just taking a packet of food or more with no questions asked.

In January 2021 we had scores of people come to us asking for jobs, clothes, ration, etc. many asked for food for the day, it was then decided that we should start a community fridge to reach out to these needy. We also started an NIOS to complete schooling those who wanted a High school certificate to get a job, education in the various bastis of Navi Mumbai and other medical and support during their quarantine periods or in need of ration for various types of vendors, daily wage earners, etc.

The community fridge which is installed in the Don Bosco Nerul premises was sponsored by Team Spreading Smiles and NGO who helped us kick start the project and has been continuously supporting to feed the hungry.

At the first year anniversary celebrations, Sunita (name changed a beneficiary said, “My parents leave for work in the morning, with no food cooked, I used to go hungry earlier, now I come here to take a packet to fill my stomach”

Another heart rendering story from Meena (name changed) “Humare ghar mei kaam koi nahi karte hai, mere tabyat bhi thik nahi hote” (there’s no earning member in my house, my health too is not in a good condition) because of the community fridge we get two meals for my children and me.

A young man Prashant (name changed) “after my mother passed away last year I was thrown out of the house because of property issues, I have nowhere to go due to tension I do drink sometimes, I used to go hunting for food in dustbins because I want to survive, after some people told me about the free meals being supplied in Don Bosco, every day I come here to pick my food – I am now so happy to get two proper meals. Now I also reach out to others who are hunting for food on the streets and tell them about the free food.”

A vendor selling plastic bags in the signal was happy to say he picks his afternoon meal from the fridge, sometimes ‘on occasions I was given biryani too’ (he said with a broad smile).

Besides the fridge is a Community Cupboard with second-hand clothes, footwear, stationery, note books, biscuits, chocolates and new masks

Many a fridge have started over the past couple of years but closed down due to lack to support. We have been able to sustain it largely due to the generous contributions of our various benefactors and donors.

When seeking admissions for the new scholastic year, many a parent during their interactions on being asked why did you choose Don Bosco, besides the excellent education and facilities have specifically mentioned, ‘Don Bosco has a social concern, look at the fridge and the other social outreach, I want my child to learn social concern too’