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A ''Home'' When Your Very Own Ceases To Be One For You.

By Thomas Pallithanam
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Hyderabad, Aug. 2. Flagging off the One Hundred Seasons of Accompanying the Marginalized, especially the dalit bahujans, women and children, People's Action For Rural Awakening (PARA) the social action initiative of Don Bosco Mission Ravulapalem, East Godavari,  Andhra Pradesh, celebrated the 'ground breaking' ceremony for the Home for women in distress on July 27, 2013.
July 27th was a day all associated with PARA had been looking forward to. On that day PARA began its centenary celebrations of its walking with the marginalized.

Individuals as well as Institutions are often challenged to tread a New path hitherto untested, unfamiliar. Sometimes nature itself conspires to make it happen. For Don Bosco Mission Ravulapalem that defining moment was the 6th August 1986, the day of the devastating Godavari Floods, a flood the like of which people of Konaseema had not seen for over half a century. As the mighty Godavari broke through its confining flood banks it forced people and institutions to reach out far beyond their own boundaries and comfort zones which they had conveniently settled into.  The boundaries of Don Bosco Mission Ravulapalem were literally breached. People came pouring in hundreds upon hundreds seeking shelter, relief and rehabilitation.

Lead by Fr. Muthalakuzhiyil Sebastian, the community responded generously, not only providing succor to those who came in search of it but also by seeking out those who needed it.

Thus began the work of People's Action For Rural Awakening.
By the end of 1988, registered as Society with a legal entity different from Don Bosco Mission, People's Action For Rural Awakening, realized that the time had come to move away from relief and welfare to take up challenges posed by man-made disasters of economic exploitation, social exclusion, political oppression and unending human rights violence against the poor especially the Dalit Bahujans. And it was then that PARA developed an identity of its own as an organization that would not compromise on the rights of the underprivileged.

Come September 1st, People's Action For Rural Awakening will be celebrating its Silver Jubilee. How quickly the years have gone by! Yes, but not without leaving an indelible mark on the socio-economic and political landscape around the area People's Action For Rural Awakening is engaged in initiating People's Action to bring about Rural Awakening.  

There are memorable tales of struggles waged against atrocities on the dalits, struggles for self respect and security, for more equitable wages and for restoration of alienated land, struggles to posses extents of lands however meager,  land that they can call their own.

There are stories of women in distress who have found in PARA a strong defender of their rights, a safe and secure home from which to take up their struggles for justice.

There are stories of children who have stepped out into this wide enticing but dangerous world on their own unable to face the cruelty of their homes and found a safe shelter in PARA.

There are stories of children who, inspired by human rights education, have become human rights defenders.

27th July ushered in the celebrations to recall those stories and to build on those memories our vision for the future.

The initiative was the 'ground breaking ceremony'  for the Home for women in distress. In the last two years PARA has been a Home to over 20 women, when their own houses had ceased to  be their homes and their dear ones their enemies. They had come seeking  both shelter and redressal for the injustice that they had experienced in their lives.  Premises of PARA was not sufficient to provide  this service. We realised that a new Home needed to be built exclusively for the such women.

Rev.Sr Ivy, the Provincial Superior of the Missionary Sisters of  Mary Help of Christians, wielded the crowbar to symbolize the inception of the building. In a very significant gesture Ms Ammaji, the first woman victim who was given shelter by PARA removed the first fists full of soil. Another victim Ms Veeramani participated in the traditional gesture of blessing by breaking the coconuts and spilling the nectar over the soil. Fr Balaraj, the Rector of Don Bosco, had earlier implored the blessings of the Almighty over the new initiative.

The 'ground breaking' ceremony was followed by a Seminar on Legislations enacted for Protection of Women. Eminent women activists of the districts Ms Padmalatha, Ms Rebca Rani, - both members of the Child Welfare Committee, Ms Symaladevi, JJB member and Ms Swarnlatha spoke to the gathering of women and men, explaining both the legislations and programmes of the government in support of women in distress.

There are requests from the district authorities to convert the home into an 'Ujjwala' home that can by supported under government grant-in-aid. The process for this purpose is on. The Gender Desk staff Ms Durga, Ms Vimala and media coordinator Ms Subbayamma compered the event.

This event will be followed by:
1. Regional Workshop on Special Component Plan and Tribal Sub-plan for which the Andhra Pradesh Government has come with a legislation - 23rd August 2013
2. Blessing & Inauguration of Ekalavya Home For Children -   a home for children on the street and child labourers - 01st September 2013
3. Flagging off the National Campaign RTI 4 RTE, the 5th Phase of Nine Is Mine Campaign.
4  Regional Seminar on National Food Security Ordinance and concluding celebrations of Jubilee on October 16th (World Food Security Day).



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