After the inspiration of Don Bosco who reached out to the emarginated youth of his days with his unique preventive system of education, i.e. of kindness, appealing to their religiosity and using reasoning as an instructional tool , the Salesians of the province of Bombay were eager to begin a work for underprivileged youth. In 1976, the Province of Mumbai started a non-formal trade school for such disadvantaged youth in Mumbai. Thus Bosco Boys’ Home (BBH) was born. I was an extension work of rehabilitation of those who were rescued from difficult situations because of their circumstances of poverty and handicaps in family and society. The scope of the place was meant to be a boarding and then the idea was mooted to house a Technical Training Centre.
The boarding premises was initially used to house these deprived youth. The following year (1977) a boarding for poor school-going boys was started and so BBH shifted residence to the old school building across the street. This provided the boys the freedom to gradually develop in an environment comfortable to themselves. Initially consisting of just school dropouts, BBH gradually began to include boys of other categories as well.
Between the years 1982 – 1987 there were hostel boys (either working, or studying in formal or non-formal courses at St. Joseph’s I.T.I. Kurla, or in college), small boys who attended the municipal schools in Borivali, and bigger boys who were learning their trades in the workshops at BBH. By 1987 all these categories slowly decreased to consist of only school dropouts, with no age barrier.
By 1992 boys 14 years and above were being admitted. Another new dimension was the admission given to street boys from Shelter Don Bosco. These boys were given another opportunity to improve their lives by learning a trade and thus become hones and responsible men. This policy of taking in street boys has proved to be successful and till date around five social welfare centres regularly send their boys to BBH.
BBH began as an alternative to formal schooling. The boys were taught a technical trade without going through the rigors of learning details of its theory. With a scope clearly different from that of a regular school/boarding, the Administration in the year 1977, introduced welding, a trade which has been very popular then and in demand in Industry. In 1978, sewing machines were bought as an Investment to begin a tailoring department. The carpentry department was established with equipment and hand tools with other assorted machinery, and book-binding with screen printing were introduced as a hobby activities. Over the years it was realized that book binding, screen printing and tailoring were trades that did not fetch jobs and that there were no takers so they were consequently closed.
Realizing the growing demand for motor mechanics, in 1993, the Council of Administration worked out a plan along with a parishioner who was a skilled and experienced mechanic, to introduce this trade in BBH.
From 1996 BBH started the electrical department. This is a part-time trade held in the afternoons for a period of one year. The first batch of 27 students appeared for the Yeshwantrao Chavan Open University (Nashik) exams. This was the first time in the history of BBH that boys appeared for an external government exam and passed successfully.
An important milestone in the history of BBH was the renovation and extension of the existing building. For a long time BBH was in need of major repairs like water-proofing, plumbing, sanitation and relocation of the work-shops. The boys were also lacking an adequate space for recreation indoors. On April 12, 1996, after endless meeting, discussions and requests, the Provincial and his council approved the repairs and extension works in BBH. The additional floor would consist of a spacious dormitory, a hall and an adjacent class room. The existing dormitory would be converted into six living rooms. The workshops were relocated, each of them having an exit on the outside of the buildings. The carpentry department would finally have their separate workshop. Besides these, other minor adjustments were made to the existing structure.
It is worth noting that while these repairs were being carried out, the boarding as well as the workshops carried on as usual in spite of several hardships faced by the Administrative Staff as well as the boys.
Aware of the boys’ natural aversion for formal education and its’ importance still uppermost in the Administrations mind, another novel idea took shape in BBH. For some years now, there was a growing need for a transitional house for the orphans of Dominic Savio’s Andheri. Having finished their academic studies, they could not continue to stay in the institution; yet they were not really ready to enter the world of work alone. The guiding presence of the Salesians, and a place to call home at the end of the day for these young workers was earnestly needed, and what better place than BBH. Having spent years in a Salesian institute, these young hostelites would return the care shown to them by spending their evenings teaching the Bosco boys who didn’t know to read and write. Being given individual academic attention, some of these dropouts returned to the local municipal schools. Thus the systematic education of these boys was provided for as long as the hostel was in existence. Since there was a varied group of boys, there was also a varied time table. Maintaining one time table for all was practically impossible. In the process the hostel boys were slowly phased out. The municipal school boys (10-13 yrs.) were taught at home. The age limit (14-18 yrs) and the category of boys (street boys and school dropouts) were finally fixed. BBH thus became a homogenous group in 1991.
When the hostel was phased out in 1991, the services of volunteers was sought. From 1997 BBH has begun a non formal schooling system for the boys who are divided into different categories according to their mental capacity. Classes are held on a regular basis between 1.30 and 4.30 p.m. with two committed teachers on the staff.
From, 1980 to 1984 a hostel for orphans and semi-orphans was run especially for those who attended technical courses or those boys who were working and had no place to stay. There were about 23 inmates. A club was also started for the youth of the neighborhood. The number touched 250.
Bosco Boys’ Home is an alternative to formal schooling. It is a response to the many forms of youth imagination in Bombay such as school dropouts, those who had never been to school and street boys. Through the development of vocational skills it enhances self esteem and self worth in these adolescent youth. It channelizes their energies towards productivity by respecting the abilities and learning pace of each individual boy. The courses offered are 2- Wheeler Mechanic, 4 Wheeler Mechanic, Electrical trade, Air-Conditioning Mechanics, Hospitality/Hotel & Catering Services.
All the Courses we now offer are designed with the help of Interaction with experts from the Field . The Experts bring to us the new Technologies and Specialization of the products , with the present features of advancements. Some of our Training Sections are also engaged in productive activity of repairs, maintenance both preventive and regular , servicing and replacements of defective parts and units.
We are thankful to Spectra Motors, a Maruti Suzuki Dealer for partnering our $-Wheeler Programme, to Voltas Industry for their longstanding and unstinted helps and expertise in the Refrigeration & Air-Conditioning field, to Godrej & Boyce for their willingness to partner our Electrical and Home Alliances Training, and to the Different Dealers of 2-Wheeler Makers for advancing our 2-Wheeler Section., to Taj by Vivanta Hotel President of the support in the OJT Training at their venue
All these courses are designed for Competencies in the Service Sector so that there is ample scope for Employment. There are definite outcomes for each of these courses with Syllabi for Theory, Engineering Drawing and Practicals. Testing and Assessment is done orally, written Objective Testing and Show of Practical Skills. Life Skills and Soft Skills are also imparted together with Basic Computer Literacy and Spoken & Communicative English which are add-ons for every student.
Above all, we encourage sports and games with competitions among the groups . This forms part of their extracurricular education. The boys at Bosco Boys’ Home learn the delicate art of balancing their fragile lives in an environment that gravitates towards increasing competition and skill- training so as to be ready for work and for life, becoming worthy citizens and good productive and contributing working individuals .