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E-Oratory connects slum children, plans all India network


By C.M. Paul
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Kolkata, Sep. 9. Mumbai, 9 September 2020 -- Youth workers in Mumbai have come up with on-line youth centres connecting marginalised children not only in their neighbourhood but also from Don Bosco institutions across India with no extra cost.

Some 1,000 children across India (Mumbai, Pune, UP, MP, Bihar and Jharkhand) are enrolled and counting in the e-Oratory today.
''It is an opportunity to connect Oratory children from all over India, from your institution, with no extra cost, time or trouble,'' says Fr. Barnabe D'Souza of Don Bosco Navi Mumbai.

Fr D'Souza adds, ''Just send an email to Don Bosco Nerul Navi Mumbai Fr. Blaise Fernandes principal.nerul@sdbinb.in or donbosconerul@gmail.com with the contact of your youth centre coordinator.''

''Your Coordinator will need to only connect your oratory children to the Don Bosco E-Oratory group and your Oratory children will be once again in Learning and educational spaces of Don Bosco,'' the director of the programme Fr. Fernandes explains.

It all started with 4-5 children taking one mobile of one of their parents and congregate to listen to the ''Didi'', her stories, her instructions and make some fun videos of dance and games, and send it back to Don Bosco Oratory Coordinator Ms. Assumption George, as their, 'home work'.

Seeing the enthusiasm, of these 4-5 kids other children started joining in, until a group of volunteers in Navi Mumbai, who call themselves, 'Team Spreading Smiles' began taking regular fun learning activities.

Their classes included educational story telling, maths, drawing, craft and origami, lectures on life skills for kids (eg. good touch-bad touch) language and various competitions and quizzes.

The model was seen so interesting that Don Bosco Borivli Rector, Fr. Solomon Rapol asked to link his Oratory kids to these classes at no extra cost, trouble or time and have got hooked on to the 'Don Bosco E Oratory.

Fr. Rapol says, ''This Don Bosco E-Oratory is a big hit with the children as well as their parents. A few of them get together around a mobile phone in different lanes of the slums and either listen or do a collective or individual homework and re-post their videos in the group. The parents are happy that their children are 'studying' and not troubling them.''

The children who do not have online classes from their regular Municipal School, are given an opportunity to keep in touch with education and not miss out on their learning.

The online schedule, Fr. Fernandes explains goes as follows: on Sundays there is General Knowledge session, Mondays there is fitness session, Tuesdays there is spoken English class, Wednesdays there is basics of Biology, Thursdays there is fun learning with numbers, Fridays there is motivational talk, Saturdays there is a puppet show besides the learning class.

All these are conducted through What-zap videos and online Zoom video call sessions and the children join the video call as scheduled.

Additionally there are sessions on Mandala letterings, Paintings, Mental Health awareness, Value Education and Art.

Those students who are found to be talented and exceptionally good at several things are also given special advanced classes on Saturdays in the field of their expertise. Recently even Origami classes took place for the kids.

Some college students have volunteered to help out in guiding the children with their online sessions and classes.

Don Bosco Development staff that live in the villages are the key factors that helped begin the class and sustain it through their visits, follow up of home works, preparing them for programmes for Teacher's Day, Independence Day, Ganesh festival, Gokul Astami, Singing Competition, and so on. END

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