Since its inception in 1980, the Bangalore Oniyavara Seva Coota (BOSCO) has touched and changed lives of thousands of youngsters, from infants to adolescents, who were found abandoned on the streets of Namma Bengaluru.
The group, formed by theology students of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) congregation, aspires to build a society that unreservedly cares for its children and youth. Providing shelter, all-round development and training and rehabilitation for the children, this registered non-profit charitable organisation wants to ensure school education for all, reduce dropout rates and to abolish child marriage and child labour. It has been instrumental in creating awareness in more than 45 underprivileged communities in different parts of the city. In its eventful journey, Bosco has reached out to a whopping 1.4 lakh children.
Fr Mathew Thomas SDB, Executive Director, Bosco, told Deccan Chronicle that the team wants to go a step further and enhance its services by reaching out to a wider population by working on an effective after-care programme designed by their R&D team with assistance from the state government. “Getting children from government-run and other juvenile homes back to the mainstream and to help them lead a dignified and respectable life is essential in preventing them from going back to their unfortunate past. We promote foster care for the rescued children as we believe family care is better than institutional care,” he said.
The NGO on an average has cared for over 7,000 children annually in recent years, and has rescued those who have run away from home and those in conflict with the law. Their rescue operations are also done through Childline 1098 and Special Juvenile Police Unit. Bosco has been instrumental in operating the 1098 service in Bengaluru since 2002 and Railway Childline since July 2015. It has been assisting child welfare officers in 34 police stations of south and west divisions since 2006.
Once a child is rescued, the immediate needs of the child, like food, clothes, medicine etc, are taken care of. After making the child comfortable, he/she is given deeper counselling and his family is traced and reunited within 24 hours after parental and family counselling. Bosco assists the Child Welfare Committee in handling children who run away from government homes. If the CWC refers children from government homes for boys and girls and observation homes, Bosco takes them to its shelter homes for rehabilitation.
Five of its centres in the city are open shelters for underprivileged children found on the streets. It will take care of transit, bridge education, formal schooling, skill training, talent enhancement, counselling service, healthcare and foster care of a rescued child. Every day, around 400 children make use of facilities at these centres, Bosco officials say.
The NGO works with the state government, Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR), Child Welfare Committee, Ministry for Women and Child Development, Integrated Child Protection Scheme, District Child Protection Unit, Juvenile Justice Board, Labour, Health, Education and Transport Departments, Railways, Police Department and other NGO networks.
The team handles sessions on child rights education in schools, civil society groups and among public. It has won the 2015 National Award for Child Welfare which was presented by then President Pranab Mukherjee, Mother Theresa Award, Bengaluru NGO Leadership Award and National YaR Homelink Award (all in 2017).
“We serve at least 20 new children every day. Their hearty smiles make us work harder to rescue more runaway children from railway stations, bus stands, markets and other busy areas,” Fr Thomas said....