India – Inauguration of PROJECT 'CALLS': COVID19 Livelihood & Living Services for tribal community in Yercaud
(ANS – Yercaud) – In addressing the health and socio-economic crisis caused by Covid-19, the Rector Major, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, has repeatedly called on Salesian creativity to identify new, concrete ways to support the most needy. To fulfill this request, on 24 June 2020, the Retreat-Don Bosco inaugurated a livelihood program for those who have lost their jobs or those without any means of survival. Acronymed 'CALLS' is a program for those without any alternative livelihoods.
Yercaud, being a hill station, sees everything connected with the tourism industry shut down. Poverty and hunger are at their worst. The program aims to train 40 people of various age groups and genders in greenhouse/plant nursery, garden care and maintenance.
The participants get stipends of Rs 300 per day during the 14 days of training/work. For the first seven days, they listen to professionals in the field for two hours. The entire project lasts 21 days.
The Project aims to create alternative and added livelihood avenues for the tribal community. The participants learn practical knowledge as regards greenhouses, plant nurseries and maintenance.
It also involves part-time self-employed work to create plants at home and sell to the nurseries. The REO (Retreat Estate Organics) Nursery run by the Retreat-Yercaud shall also buy directly or help find other dealers.
Each participant at the end of the 40 days get Rs 4.500/- and a certificate with which they can easily be appointed in tourist resorts, private homes or nurseries to create gardens, lawns, and their maintenance.
The Government officials lauded the initiative and extended all their support. The invitees were: Mrs. Ramani, Thasildar of Yercaud Panchayat, Mrs. Shanthavalli, the Chairman of Yercaud Union, Mr. Gunasekar, Block Development Officer, and Mr. Thomson, Director of Public Health, Yercaud.
Interestingly, there were 10 college-going students who would like to get the training not only to earn the money to pay their fees, but also to create nursery plants and sell them to nurseries to pay for their school fees. An inspirational intent that moved all the people in the event.
The program is a joint initiative of Shevaroy Hills Tribal Development Institute of the Retreat-Don Bosco, Jugend Eine Welt of Austria, and BoscoNet, New Delhi. The project is coordinated by Fr. Selvakumar SDB, the local Project Manager.
- INT INDIA TIRUCHY