Fr Edwin D’Souza, from Mumbai, India, visited Australia for the first time last month. During a gathering held at Ascot Vale on February 27, he gave a first-hand report on the work in his Province that is supported by Australian and other overseas donors.
The thrust of the work in Mumbai, especially in the rural districts, is education. Experience has shown that this is the key to helping people break the ‘vicious circle of poverty’. The goal is to provide schooling which enables people to progress from poverty to a level of employment.
Fr Edwin explained that the Mumbai Office has many projects ‘on the go’; for instance:
The Bosco Gramin Vikas Kendra – Aurangabad, under the guidance of the Don Bosco Development Society Mumbai has initiated ‘Livelihood Projects’ in local centres aimed at assisting 60 villages in the region. Its focus is on the education of children and youth through the training of farmers and agricultural practices, which are specially aimed at improving soil and crops though the implementation of better scientific farming.
Don Bosco Mumbai has also in recent years focused on the empowerment of women though the formation of self-help groups and bank linkages. Courses are provided in tailoring, dressmaking, hairdressing and personal development. Women are provided with a financial management overview as well as guidelines for ‘running a home-based small business’. This program has been very successful.
A major part of Fr Edwin’s and the Province’s work is to identify future needs, such as sustainable solutions required for the communities from twenty villages in Aurangabad, Jalna and Parbhani.
He concluded by explaining that the needs in Mumbai are great. However it is with the generous support of Australian donors that has enabled their important work to continue.
By Tina Newton, ASMOAF Assistant