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DB Bicentenary and 100 Seasons with Dalit Bahujans celebrated at Ravulpalem

By Thomas Pallithanam
A Collage of events on 16th August 2014
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Hyderabad, Aug. 18. Celebrations of PARA's One Hundred Seasons (25 years) of Journey with Dalit Bahujans drew to a close on 16 August with multi-layered events at Ravulapalem, East Godavari (A.P.). The main events were the blessing and inauguration of 'Surakshita', the Home for Women in Distress, by Rev. Fr Raminedi Balaraju sdb (Salesian Provincial) and Sr Mary George (Vice Provincial, MSMHC),  the flagging of the State level campaign against corporal punishments in schools by Prof. Madabhushi Sridhar (Central Information Commissioner), and the Public Meeting at the premises of Ekalavya Training Centre. The occasion also set the trajectory for the Journey PARA will continue to make with Dalit Bahujans.
Nature conspired to create a perfect ambience for the events of the day. From early morning till mid-day it continued to rain just as it had happened 25 years ago on Saturday 16th August 1986. On that far off day people came streaming in to Don Bosco Mission in fear and apprehension. But on this Saturday they came joyously to relive a memory, to celebrate  a journey that they and Don Bosco Ravulapalem  had made over the years and institutionalized  it as People's Action For Rural Awakening (PARA).  On the previous day many of the past colleagues of PARA had gathered for a 'Mutchatla Sayamkalam' (evening get together) to recall the past.

The Blessing and Inauguration of 'Surakshita' took place at 3.00 pm  in the presence of Fr Sebastian M, the man behind the relief and rehabilitation effort in 1986, Fr Abraham M.C., Fr Jose T.V., Sr Ivy  (former provincial), Srs Mary John and Rose, and Mr Luberth - the people who had reached out in service to those affected by the flood. Fr Guvvala Balaraju and Sr Maria Manmadha the present directors of Don Bosco Mission and Don Bosco Convent also graced the occasion.

The rally by children from human rights clubs from across the state  in support of Campaign Against Corporal Punishments in Schools led by Fr Raminedi, Prof. Madabhushi Sridhar and Fr Thomas Koshy (National Coordinator, YaR)  reached the Ravulapalem Town Centre at 5 pm. Rallyists were joined by Mr Chirla Jaggi Reddi, MLA Kothapetta and Mr Gollapalli Surya Rao, former Minister and now MLA of Razole, and Mr Muppalla Subarao, State Bar Council Member. The pledge against corporal punishments was administered by Mr Surya Rao.

The public meeting at Ekalavya set the trajectory for the future.  The releasing of the Souvenir as well as the Human Rights Record Book to chronicle the years to come, was symbolic of the passing on the baton to children who would now be the main protagonists of changes that PARA intends to strive for, in line with what children are asserting ''WE are TODAY'S Citizens.'' .  The souvenir was a labour of dedication by Sr Sangeeta, Mr Chittibabu and Mr Buddana Venkateswara Rao, chronicling the by gone years of PARA.

Winding up the day's events Fr. Thomas Pallithanam, Director PARA, said, ''While we thank everyone who made this day a memorable one, we usher in the celebration of the Bicentenary of the birth of the Friend of Youth, Don Bosco our Father and Founder, on another 16 of August. He walked with us all these years and surely he will walk with us especially now as the new protagonists, the children, take up the Journey along a new trajectory.''
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