Monday, 25 January 2010

Salesian work at Karjat

Yesterday I took the Manmad-Pune Express and went to Karjat to attend the inauguration and blessing of the new building for the work for young people at risk that the Salesians have been doing for some years now in a village called Moti Vengaon.

What impressed me most were the boys. They are never too many at a time, but they undergo a 2 month course where they learn English, life skills such as yoga, self-awareness, meditation, cooking, keeping accounts, marketing, gardening, eco-friendly methods, and so on. If they get through these 2 months, they are admitted to a 4 month multi-skilled trade course. These boys - who you see in the pictures above - stunned all of us when they put up a presentation in English about their 6 month long course. Amazing work by Frs Xavier Devadas, Barnabe D'Souza, Damien Sladen, and their team of lay animators.

The boys we are speaking of all are 'from the streets.' Many of them have undergone detoxification (getting rid of their drug and other addictions) at the Salesian centre Maria Ashiana at Lonavla. In the 6 months they spend at Karjat, they are prepared to 'get back' to life and set out on their own.

Besides this work, the Salesians are also involved in an interesting way in the surrounding tribal villages. Upon written invitation from the sarpanch, they offer supplementary classes to children. They also offer training to the villagers in eco-friendly methods of cooking and agriculture. The tribal people are being helped to make full use of the environment without damaging it. Fr Xavier has introduced methods for making charcoal from little twigs, leaves, waste paper, board, anything at all; so there is no need for trees to be cut down. He has shown how vegetables can be grown in the poorest of soils with waste from the kitchen and very little water.

It would be a great idea for parishioners to visit Don Bosco Karjat and see for themselves the work that is going on. And, besides, Karjat is wonderful: it has retained the pristine charm of the Sahayadris, despite the rapidly increasing number of bungalows and resorts.

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