by Susanne Rodrigues
WALVANDA, FEB 1, 2017: Fourteen youth and three animators from Don Bosco Youth Services (DBYS) visited Bosco Samajik Vikas Sanstha (BSVS), Walvanda on January 14 and 15 to experience first-hand the plight of tribals in the area.
For many in the group, it was their first visit to a tribal area. Father Anaclete D'Mello, Father Kiran Salve, Father Rixon Nigrel and the BSVS staff gave the group a warm welcome.
The youth had vermilion smeared on their foreheads and were given Gandhi caps to wear in typical rural Maharashtrian style. Father Nigrel made the youth aware of the condition of local tribals and also about the social work being done by BSVS in the neighbouring areas.
After an orientation session on the aboriginal tribals (adivasis) in India and the Warlis living in the area, the group visited the Warli settlement and spoke to the villagers about the difficulties they face and about their lifestyle in general.
After sunset, they gathered at BSVS to participate in a lively Warli dance, to the plaintive tones of the tarpa instrument. The fast-paced Warli dance attracted the youth, who joined in. They then returned to have supper in a few houses in the village.
The next morning, they rose early for a pre-dawn walk to a check dam at a nearby river, where they participated in a nature meditation as the sun rose. As they walked back, they got an opportunity to taste fresh and sweet toddy, straight from the palm. They enjoyed the close connect with nature - the sights, sounds, smells and feel of the wide open places.
After Holy Mass and breakfast, they had a Warli art workshop conducted by a local artist who introduced them to the Warli art style. This was followed by a sharing of experiences and things learned during the rural trip. They followed it up with a commitment to make some meaningful changes in their daily lives. Although it was a short trip, it was a memorable experience.