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Government of India names BOSCO, Bangalore the best NGO for Child Welfare

By Valarkote Mathew sdb
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Bangalore, Nov. 17. The Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, has chosen Bangalore Oniyavara Seva Coota (BOSCO), for the prestigious 2014 National Award for Child Welfare, under Institution/Organization Category, for its decades-long outstanding service in the field of welfare of the marginalized children.
The award carrying a cash prize of Rs.Three lakhs and a citation was presented to Fr. Panamkattu Mathew Thomas, the Executive Director of BOSCO, by Shree Pranab Mukherjee, the Honourable President of India, in a solemn function held on 14th November 2015 at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan, New Delhi.  

It is certainly the biggest honour among the many accolades won by BOSCO in its past 35-year long inspiring history. BOSCO Bangalore is the premier NGO engaged in the rescue and rehabilitation of street and working children in the city of Bangalore. The Organization had a humble beginning in 1980. It began with the contacting of children found on the streets of K. R. Market and Bangalore City Railway Station. The small seed planted by a group of students of Theology from Kristu Jyoti College, Bangalore has today grown to the stature of a gigantic tree giving shade, shelter and hope to thousands of vulnerable children from across the country. It is also a beautiful occasion to remember with gratitude all the pioneers and their successors who nurtured BOSCO with their selfless service and undivided commitment to the cause it stands for.

It is important to note that committed to its mission and vision of weaning children from the streets and bringing them to the mainstream society, BOSCO has given new life to more than 1,25,000 less privileged children over the years of course with the unstinted support of the civil society. In recent years BOSCO is able to rescue and rehabilitate about 7000 children at risk annually - children who run away from home for various reasons, children who are victims of abuse, child marriage, addiction, child labour and beggary, children who are orphaned, abandoned, abducted and neglected by their parents.

Besides running the nine city rehabilitation centres for the stakeholders, BOSCO is also involved in child rights education in schools, colleges, and for the general public in view of protecting and promoting child rights and make Bangalore a child-friendly city. It has also made significant contributions towards formulation government policies and decision making process through its various innovative programmmes. For instance, BOSCO has set a benchmark in the rescue of runaway children traced in Bangalore City Railway Station which has been accepted and adopted into Railway Childline project. A pioneer in open shelter for children on streets which has become a national programme under ICPS; a trendsetter in the formulation of foster care guidelines that have been adopted by the Karnataka Government and the Union Government. BOSCO has been running the CHILDLINE service since 2002 in Bangalore and assisting the Special Juvenile Police Unit of Bangalore South and West police divisions since 2006. BOSCO is also the nodal organization for Missing Child Bureau (MCB) in Karnataka under the state JJ rule and coordinate all the activities in all the districts concerning the missing children. Several of BOSCO's experienced and trained staff have been appointed members of Child Welfare Committees, Child Rights Commissions, state ICPS Society and other child welfare networks.

For us Salesians it is significant that this award is conferred on BOSCO in the Bicentenary Year of the birth of Don Bosco. It is once again an affirmation of the relevance and effectiveness of the educational system of Don Bosco in our time.

Hearty congratulations to the entire BOSCO team, past and present. Needless to state that for BOSCO and much more for the Salesian YaR Centres throughout India this award definitely means both a reason to rejoice and a call to greater responsibility.
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