The Assam Missions (the present NE India) was entrusted to the Salesians of Don Bosco in 1921. The first band of Salesian missionaries, led by Fr. Louis Mathias reached Shilllong in January 1922. Following his motto “Dare and Hope”, he and his companions dared to do the impossible and hoped for the best. Today their work has born fruit in the development of two provinces in the region – the province of Guwahati and Dimapur. Among the various activities of the Salesians of the province of Guwahati, Bosco Reach Out (BRO) is one noteworthy initiative.
BOSCO REACH OUT (BRO)
BRO is the social service wing of the Province of Guwahati, the result of an ardent desire to address the development needs of the region. Founded in 1983, it extends its operational activities in the field of community development, relief and rehabilitation to the people of 4 states in the region. In 2000 it began to concretize its vision a step further by focusing on educating people for self-empowerment. Thus the RURAL RESOURCE TRAINING CENTRE (RRTC) was born with the aim: “development through empowerment of the people’
OBJECTIVES OF THE WORK
Through the RRTC, the Salesians aim to make economic self-sufficiency and dignity possible for rural youngsters in North Eastern India. The following are the main objectives of the project:
· To build up a model organic farm for a food production that is sufficient, sustainable and safe.
· To demonstrate the importance of an eco-friendly and cost-effective technology.
· To build up a fully equipped rural resource and training centre
· To encourage development of skills in agro-based industries so as to generate self-employment
· To train people to manage livestock in a way that is suitable and profitable
FACILITIES OFFERED FOR TRAINING
The RRTC has well-equipped training rooms and conference halls. Its staff is well-qualified and dedicated. The traning centre offers a huge amount of space and a large variety of projects for training. These include a rural technology park, an horticultural nursery, an organic farm, a herbal garden and a mushroom laboratory. Various kinds of rural sustainable technology are available. Different forms of livestock offer training facilities in animal husbandry. These include fish ponds for pisciculture, different livestock such as chickens, ducks, cows, pigs, rabbits and goats.
Since trainees enroll from all over the North East of India, the medium of instruction used are the major local languages of the region besides the two national languages, Hindi and English. There are two types of courses – the long term courses that can last for 3 months, and the short term courses that vary from 3 to 20 days. Courses are available on a large variety of topics pertinent to sustainable development in the region. Here is a random list: Rural Entrepreneurship Development Programme (REDP), Live Stock Management, Fishery Management Programme, Compost Making, Plant Propagation, Land and Water Management Programme, Principles of Cultivation, Herbal Health Care, Food Processing, Bee Keeping, Mushroom Cultivation, Rural Technology.
This project would not have been possible without the support of the following major collaborators: Development agencies from Europe (Comide, Misereor, Cordaid, Manos Unidas etc.), Indian Centre for Agricultural Research (ICAR), North Eastern Council (NEC), Department of Science and Technology (DST), India, Spices Board India, Departments of Soil Conservation, Fisheries, Animal Husbandry of the Government of India.