by Schlainne Patel
GUJARAT, MAR 25, 2016: The provincial delegate of the Salesian Family, Father Vivian D'Souza, along with 17 members of the Mumbai province comprising the Wadala, Bandra, Andheri, Virar and Lonavala units went for a mission experience to Gujarat on March 12.
Father Pravin Makwana, Rector at Don Bosco Narukot along with his team, welcomed them at Vadodara station and led them to their destination at Narukot.
Father Makwana with colleagues Father Ashwin Macwan, the administrator and Brother Alex Carvalho had a planned itinerary for the group for the tenure of their stay. This included visiting the villages of Narukot, Duma, Chotaudepur, Kawant and Thalki.
Catechist Yesudas was the tour guide and showed the visitors the Mass centre at Duma village, which is 19kms from Narukot. They also visited a few homes of the villagers in the neighbourhood, who large-heartedly shared with them their simple meals. The group enjoyed the rustic experience of sitting on a charpai -cot- and eating the villager's staple vegetable and 'rotla', a hand-made roti of bhajra flour. Some women Cooperators also got a hands-on demo on how to make the rotlas.
At Chotaudepur, 50kms away from Duma, the visitors experienced the Haat, a weekly Saturday market. After shopping, they then headed for the Don Bosco house at Chotaudepur. Post-lunch the group toured the vast campus. The Don Bosco home in Chottaudepur houses the largest boarding in the province, with a capacity of 600 boarders at a time. The current number stood at 265 boys.
Father Brian Buthelo then briefed the group about his challenges in setting up the home back in 1975. Cooperator Chandran was also estatic to meet his son, Father Charlin, currently based at Chottaudepur.
The group then headed to Kawant, which is a further 25kms away. Here the house accommodates above 150 boarders. After a tour and savouring a local potato delicacy- resembling the samosa- with chai, the group proceeded to Thalki, which is 60kms away.
Thalki has a Mass centre and Father Makwana and Father D'Souza celebrated Holy Mass . The group was specially grateful to Catechist Yesudas, who was the organist, choir master and liturgist; and his wife Pushpa, who work joyfully and tirelessly to witness Christ to the people in Duma and Thalki villages.
Day two began with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, with pious bhajan singing by the youth. Then there was a Bal-Mela orgainsed as part of the Village Education Project on the campus of Don Bosco Home, Narukot. 560 children attended the mela from 22 different villages. They participate in different activities organised by the boarders of Don Bosco Home Narukot.
The purpose of the Bal Mela or village education project is to introduce higher education to village children. In the villages, education upto standard five is provided. From standard six onwards, children have to travel to distant places to attend regular classes and exams. Owing to these difficulties, many children drop out.
The Bal Mela is a way of showing the children what they can get once enrolled for further education. Interested candidates are then housed in the Don Bosco home as boarders, if they come from extremely backward areas.
Post lunch Father Pravin, took the group on a tour of the 40 acre campus on a tractor, showing them mangroves and teak plantations; telling them stories of the blue bulls and wild animals coming there for prey and water. For some visitors of the Salesian family, this village experience was a first, and all went back home with memorable experiences of the hospitality and warmth they received.