ST. JOHN BOSCO   (DON BOSCO)

 

John Bosco was born on 16 August 1815 at a little hamlet called Becchi, in northern Italy. When John was two, his father died, leaving the widow Margaret with an ailing mother-in -law, a stepson and two other boys to eke out a living on a farm in the Hills of Piedmont. Love and hardship characterized the home. Despite all odds, John wanted an education; he wanted to become a priest. At the age of twelve, he left home to find work. At fourteen, he found a tutor. At fifteen, he began taking jobs of any kind to pay for lodging and school. At the age of twenty six, he realized his dream.

 

“I want to be a priest who cares about youth”, he said and that is what he did. He began, faltering and searching at first in the industrial city of Turin. His first permanent school was a broken-down shed. The trades he had learnt while working his way through school became the trades he taught to classes given even in his kitchen. His mother joined him in Turin as Mamma Margaret, Mother of Don Bosco’s orphans”.

 

            When he needed help, older boys supervised the younger ones, until they formed a huge family with Don Bosco as father. As boys grew to manhood, many stayed to form the Salesian Society, the world’s third largest religious Community. Small classes led to large school, lessons in Crafts to job training. Don Bosco’s unquenchable love becomes an unquenchable movement all over the world.

 

            Don Bosco inspired the start of a vast movement of persons who in different ways work for the salvation of the young. He himself founded not only the Society of St. Francis de Sales but also the institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and the Association of Salesian Cooperators. These live in communion with each other, share the same spirit and with specifically distinct vocations, continue the mission he began.

 

            The past pupils are also members of the Salesian family by reason of the education they have received and the bonds are closer when they commit themselves to take an active part in the Salesian Mission in the world.

 

            Don Bosco called his Education project “The Preventive System”. It is based entirely on Reason, Religion and Loving Kindness. It follows the words of St. Paul, “Charity is patient, & kind. It bears all things, hopes all things, endure all things” (1 Cor 13:4,7)

            Dominic Savio, the School boy Saint, is the first among the best of Don Bosco’s Pupils, a true model for the youth of our times; he is the most outstanding product of Don Bosco’s Preventive System of Education.

 

            Who was Don Bosco? Historians know him as a social innovator, saint and educator. Common people claim him as a publisher, builder. Religious-minded people claim him as a clairvoyant, visionary, prophet. Churchmen and psychologists wonder at the catalogue of his prophetic “dreams” and prolific, even prodigal recourse to miracles. But his special mission was the care of youth. He was the priest who made them laugh, gave them food, enriched their minds, taught them trades and filled their souls with peace and joy. The Church has proclaimed him a Saint and the “Father and Teacher of Youth.”

HISTORY OF DON BOSCO SCHOOL IN ANDAMAN & NICOBAR ISLANDS

 

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, the ProvincialFr.Camillus Fernando,the Vice Provincial Fr.MariaArockiamKanaga and the EconomerBr.Expedit Lobo 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 Pilar Fathers 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 1998, 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 1999 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, on 23 April 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 (Krishi Vigyan 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.

For Girls: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 Salesians were 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.

In order to raise the standard of the students, staff and school, we decided to go for ICSE (officially known as CISCE) affiliation. It was a herculean task as there was no school affiliated to this board in Andaman & Nicobar Islands. So, after a long, painstaking struggle, and tremendous effort, we obtained the NOC from the Andaman & Nicobar Administration for affiliation to CISCE. Again, it took a very long period and effort to get the affiliation to CISCE. Finally the school got the affiliation to CISCEon 11 June 2019. Don Bosco is the first and only school to have affiliation to CISCE board in the whole of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. With this affiliation, class 9 was started in 2019.We started class 10 in 2020 and this first batch of X std students are going to appear for their board exams in March 2021.

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.