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Guwahati Salesians launch new strategy for skilling youth


By C.M. Paul
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Guwahati, Aug. 17.  Tezpur -  Heeding to the call of Pope Francis to pay attention to the world situation of 'youth exclusions' Salesians of Guwahati province have come up with a new strategy to give unemployed youth access to employment opportunities.

The inauguration of Don Bosco Social and Technical Institute (DBSTI) at Tezpur in Sonitpur District of Assam also marked the launch of the bi-centennial celebrations of Don Bosco's birth, 16 August 2015.
Besides the presence of young people and Salesians from different parts of Assam, there was a group of 28 Salesians attending Missionary Animation from Shillong who joined provincials and heads of religious communities in Tezpur along with three bishops (Bishop Michael Akasius Toppo of Tezpur, Bishop Emeritus Robert Kerketa of Tezpur, and Archbihop John Moolachira of Guwahati).

An echo of Pope Francis concern for 'skilling  youth' was heard also at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech delivered at the Red Fort on the occasion of India's 68th Independence day, 15 August.

''Skill development of youth is not only a concern of Prime Minister Modi, but also the nagging thought of Assam Chief Minister Shri Tarun Gogoi,'' said local Member of Parliament Mr Santius Kujur, speaking at the inauguration of DBSTI in his Tezpur parliamentary constituency.

''We are confronted with the situation of social exclusion and unemployment and its associated negative consequences such as rebellion, insurgency, violence, and addictions in this part of Assam,'' said Salesian provincial Fr V.M. Thomas explaining the opportunity that Salesians intend to seize by providing training to youth in such areas as computer, hospitality, tourism, personality development and leadership to name a few.

The director of DBSTI Fr Cletus explained, ''with the motto: Skilling Youth, Transforming Lives, our mission in this institute will be to empower youth to be committed and creative in shaping their destiny; to promote leadership, competence and collaboration among youth through intercultural exchanges and to be a leading institute offering capacity-building, research and consultancy in conflict resolution and management.''

Fr Cletus added, ''we intend to reverse the social exclusion process through such initiatives as individual and group counseling, conflict management initiatives, team-building dynamics, and enhancing life-skills.''

A team of three Salesians are assisting Fr Cletus, namely Fr.  Alex Kattakayam, the Associate Director who will be engaged in Conflict Management and Peace Initiatives, research and publications ; Master of Social Work topper from Dibrugarh University Bro. Edward Kujur, is skills trainer, and lawyer Fr. Rajendra Ekka will help in Legal Aid and awareness programmes for the poor and marginalized youth.

During the bicentennial year three other similar institutes are planned in Guwahati province at Maligaon (Kamrup), Barpeta Road (Barpeta) and Mendal (East Garo Hills).

Don Bosco's 199th birthday was marked with the solemn dedication of a church (shrine) in Don Bosco's honour at Shashipur in Baksa district of Assam on the Indo-Bhutan border, by archbishop John Moolachira of Guwahati. Some 50 priests, religious nuns, parishioners and young people and a delegation of local Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Buddhists paid floral tribute to Don Bosco.

On the previous day, in a day-long event on 15th August, Salesians gathered some 1,500 deprived children under ''Child Friendly Guwahati'' project in collaboration with the Government, Rotarians, Lions, Roundtablers, IAS Officers' Wives Association and a large gathering of well wishers and friends. Besides launching 200 balloons to mark Don Bosco birth bicentennial, there were meaningful songs and choreographed dances, and 1,500 street children had sumptuous lunch and dinner.

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