Andaman& Nicobar, once known as Kala Pani, for the reason it harboured one of the biggest penal settlements in the time of the British Raj, is a picturesque archipelago of emerald islands. This union territory in the political map of India attracts today tourists from other parts of the world. The Church started looking after the total welfare of the people of these islands ever since the civilization of these islands was set in motion after the penal settlement was abolished. The Catholic Bishop of Port Blair had been inviting the Salesians of Don Bosco for a long time to render their service for the youth of these islands. In October, 1996, Provincial and a couple of his Council Members came from Chennai to these islands to meet the Bishop and to gather some basic knowledge about the youth of these islands and their needs. As a result of this visit the Salesians of Chennai Province came forward to accept the invitation of the Bishop to work in this beautiful archipelago.
On 6 February, 1997, a Salesian,Fr. Mari Raj Arul SDB landed in Port Blair and began to work along with the PilarFathers at Mathura (about 37 k.m. from Port Blair) Church and began to learn Hindi. On 16 September, 1997, Fr. Patrick Alphonse SDB came from Chennai to live in Mathura. Hence, Fr. Mari Raj Arul moved in with the Jesuits of Diglipur. Fr. Mari Raj Arul, known in this part of the world as Fr.Raja, and Fr. Patrick Alphonse were spending one full year in getting to know the lay of the land, as it were, learning the language and coming to grips with the culture of the people of these islands. It was on 16 August , on the Birthday of St. John Bosco, the founder of the Salesian religious order, the Parish of Ferrargunj, named after St. Joseph the Worker, was handed over to the Salesians of Don Bosco. The Salesians began to organize the parish church with a special focus on the youth of the place. In the year 2009 Fr. Raja and Fr. Patrick Alphonse went around the churches in these islands and met groups of youth and did a situation analysis of the youth and their families. The study revealed that a very staggering percentage of youth were school drop-outs. As much as 77 percent of youth had not completed their schooling and do not hold any certificate to this effect. It was, therefore, considered necessary to start a non- formal technical institute that will enrich the lives of youth with some skills to fend for themselves.
The Salesians acquired a piece of land in Lalapahar, Chouldari, in the year 2001, in view of creating some infrastructure and a setting that will take care of the integral formation of the young, who for reason of abandoning their schooling, could acquire some skills and morally, spiritually and socio economically be strengthened. In view of improving the life style of the people and raise their socio-economic conditions, several Self Help Groups were started in Ferrargunj with the help of CARI (Central Agricultural Research Institute) and KVK (KrishiVigyan Kendra). A tailoring institute was started at Ferrargunj, in October 2003, as a satellite programme for the big institute that was to be set up in Lalpahar.
Salesians started living here, at Lalpahar, in the year 2003. By the end of 2003 a motor mechanic training course was started with a few trainees who came as day scholars. The whole campus was named DIYAA (Don Bosco Institute of Youth Advancement Andaman and Nicobar). The aim of the institution is to light a little lamp in the lives of the young who come to Lalpahar so that they may carry this light and bring about betterment to their families and their society. In the year 2004 the devastating Tsunami left a trail of destruction in all parts of this archipelago. Salesians of Don Bosco responded immediately to the situation by appealing to various agencies for financial assistance to help out the Tsunami affected youth in particular and youth at large. In 2006 we started a service station in Port Blair. In 2006 the Salesians started putting up the infrastructure at Lalpahar.
Meanwhile in the year after the Tsunami the Salesians also responded to the need of the hour.The Salesians began implementing a project of forming more Self Help Groups in Ferrargunj area. Surabi was the name of the Project which was reaching out to the poorer strata of society. It saw very many benefits reaching to the poor with the collaboration of CARI, KVK, ANCON, Cooperative Union. These Government and non government agencies gave a wonderful support by way of technical advice on formation of groups and providing ample training programmes to members of these SHGs. The groups were given as many as twenty eight trainings in two years. Horticultural training was given to these groups in Lalpahar. The groups grew in number, even as we have more than hundred very active groups around today.
Towards the end of the year 2006 many courses of skill training began for the benefit of the youth of these islands. Automobile mechanism – 6 month course; 2 & 4 wheeler servicing and maintenance – 6 month course; Driving – 3 month course; Agriculture and Horticulture – 3 month course.
- Tailoring and embroidery – 6 month course;
- Food processing – 3 month course.
In the years that followed many batches of youth have been in Lalpahar and have gained employment or self-employment when they completed their trainings in Lalpahar. Thus DIYAA has lived up to its name by bringing light into the lives of youth.
After repeated requests, the Salesianswere allowed to open up an academic school in Lalpahar. Don Bosco School came into existence on 08 September 2012 with just 4 nursery students. The school was officially recognized by the Administration of Andaman & Nicobar on 01 April 2014. It was upgraded in to a Middle School on 01 April, 2016 and Class 6 was started. Class 7 was started on 01 April 2017 with 23 students and on 02 April 2018, class 8 was started. The school is in its inception but the response from the parents, neighbours, government officials and well wishers is tremendous. The fast growth in its strength and the high standard of education that is imparted are the proofs of this. This institution will gradually and steadily grow in strength and stature day by day. The school will live up to the educational standards that have been set by the Salesians who are dedicated to the education of the young in 135 countries.