BIS #7123 DBYS on a Rural Experience at Walvanda

By Ms Marilyn Pereira for BISMumbai

On the morning of 9 December 2023, 14 youngsters from Don Bosco Youth Services (DBYS), Matunga, left for Walvanda, situated in the Jawhar District of Maharashtra, for an experience in its rural areas. The trip was organised by Fr Leon Cruz Ratinam, Director of DBYS, in collaboration with Don Bosco, Walvanda.

However, this was not just a ‘village experience’ as ‘tourists’ but an opportunity to immerse themselves in rural life and witness firsthand the lifestyle and culture of the tribal community, and the impact of the community empowerment efforts led by Don Bosco, Walvanda. 

Before setting out, Fr Anaclete D’Mello, the Rector, oriented the group with a brief overview of Walvanda and the pivotal role that the Salesians and their associates have played in uplifting the lives of the tribal community residing there.

The youth were guided by the local trainers, and they were led to explore the nearby villages, gaining insights into the support for local farmers in cultivating Mogra using natural fertilisers and pesticides. The group strolled through fields, observing traditional farming methods. They learned, to their surprise, that despite the presence of lakes and water reservoirs, water scarcity remained a significant issue, impacting farming activities. Over the years, Don Bosco, Walvanda, has been instrumental in constructing wells and borewells, easing the burden of water scarcity for the tribal residents.

A visit to a small village, Umbarvangan, became a heart-touching experience. The group shared a simple home-cooked meal with the villagers and played with the children. They relived their childhood memories when they were not addicted to their cell phones and engaged in conversations with their families. Conducting a survey helped them better understand the hardships and challenges faced by the community. The day concluded with a return to their tents and a campfire evening with dancing, singing, and playing games.

The following day commenced with the Holy Eucharist. The group embarked on a trek to a nearby hilltop, soaking in the beauty of nature and the sunrise. Learning about Warli art, a traditional form of tribal painting, was the highlight of the day, as the group was educated about its significance and observed how it has been passed down from generation to generation, serving as a medium for storytelling.

The journey back was not just a physical return but a reflection on the profound experience they had undergone. In essence, the village experience at Walvanda served as a powerful reminder of the privilege many take for granted, prompting a deeper appreciation for the simplicity that defines true happiness.