Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The DON of Education and Youth

Have you watched The Godfather? (or possibly read the novel)... Then you surely remember Don Corleone... While the title 'don' has come to be associated with the underworld (or what we in India call 'Bhai')... there is one good man who bears this title who has earned (and continues to earn) great accolades the world for his work with young boys (and nowadays even young girls)... I'm talking about DON BOSCO or St. John Bosco.

Just last month, was sitting on a pre-wedding meeting with this couple who had booked me to emcee their wedding who had planned to hold their nuptials at the Don Bosco shrine in Matunga, Mumbai... The mention flashed back all the memories of the weddings and the celebrations of family that we attended there... One of my aunts used to live in Parel and they were regulars at Don Bosco. She and my cousins were active members of the choir at the Shrine for many years... and obviously most of them got married in the Shrine... My only elder boy cousin also studied in the school... and from the stories that he shared it was really fun... During my time in Dubai, I encountered a group of alumni from Don Bosco's Matunga among past colleagues, my business clients as well as friends whose events I have managed.

During our childhood we'd spend most of our holidays at my grandmoms' place at Everard Nagar... and one May evening after the Rosary, they screened a documentary on St. John Bosco... and the Salesian movement and the incredible work they do in the community... mainly in encouraging education... And it all started with a call to Live The Dream.

As I entered college, my musical friends - the group that used to sing for inter-college competitions - used to belong to a Salesian parish, Our Lady of Dolours Church (Wadala). They invited me to sing with them as part of the special choir that used to sing for Wedding Masses and other occasions (many of them at the Don Bosco Shrine or at the crypt). This is where I got a first hand experience with the Salesians, and saw the work they did at the upliftment of young boys and guiding them into the right path. We've gone and spent time at Shelter Don Bosco - a home for children in need of care and protection. Many of the children at the home were ragpickers who needed to be kept not just out of the cold, but also away from drug addiction and other destructive tendencies... 

This is also where I learnt a lot of the music tricks I know now, including the encouragement to get back to the keyboard from observing the talent of our choir master. A few years later I was even part of the band led by Roney Gomes - who had studied at Don Bosco's School in Lonavala (a hill station close to Mumbai). Here's an account of the Don Bosco's Dream that inspired his mission (when he was just nine).

My first show singing with The Blending Stars was to celebrate the ordination of a Salesian priest at a reception conducted at the St. Joseph's Technical Institute in Kurla... Had a friend or two from the neighbourhood who had done their ITI diplomas at the institute... When I returned from Dubai though, three years ago, I found that this institute had grown to a full-fledged Engineering College - DBIT (being attended by a good number of boys - and girls as well - from my parish). There is also a School for Hospitality Studies (DBIHMCT) , and Institute of Management Studies and Research (DBIMR) and a Centre for Learning (DBCL) - where I myself got update on Digital Marketing prior to my current assignment at Publicis Media.

But my happiest association with the Salesians is to have a relative in their fold joining forces to make this world a better place... and take the youth Beyond The Horizon.

Happy Feast to all the Salesians, 
and all present and past Bosco-ites 
from any of their institutes 
in Mumbai, in India and across the globe.

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