‘Yuvaspandhana 2010’, the second all Karnataka convention of the Young at Risk (YaR) began at Don Bosco Hospet at 11.00 am on Saturday. The three day YaR convention held from 23-25 January 2010 has ‘Young at Risk for Environment Restoration’ as its theme. It marks the 150th year of the founding of the Salesian Congregation and the 25th year of the founding of Don Bosco, Hospet. The convention also marks the establishing of several child labour rehabilitation centres in nine districts of Karnataka after the project got initiated in 1994. Four hundred and fifty children and 40 staff members from 13 Don Bosco YaR centres participated in the programme.

Welcoming the gathering, Fr. Henry Galbao, Don Bosco, Hospet, opined that ‘Yuvaspandhan 2010’ fellowship is meant to help the children to experience togetherness and it is an opportunity for learning and awareness on environmental problems and importance of eco friendly life.

“Following the footsteps of Don Bosco, the Salesians undertake various ventures in order to educate the young and make them responsible citizens who would take good care of themselves and environment”, said Fr. Kuriakose, Director, Don Bosco, Davangere in the inaugural report.

In an effort to conscientize the young for the need to preserve and protect the environment, the lighting of the lamp was followed by the planting of a seedling by the chief guests and the child representatives. In his inaugural address Mr. Sonne Gowda, Commissioner, CMC, Hospet told that the children and youngsters in the Don Bosco centres are no more ‘Young at Risk’ but young who are privileged and have the zest for a better life. He also recommended the ‘YaR’ project of the Salesians as a model to be imitated. Mr. Devendrappa, Vice President, Taluk Panchayath, Hospet, said that Don Bosco institutions are rendering yeomen service to the society in educating and transforming the children into responsible citizens.

“We are part of a big global family connected to each other in one way or the other”, said Fr. George Kollashany, founder, BOSCO. Beginning his speech in an innovative and interactive manner by providing a leaf to each participant he said that the endangered environment is welcoming their decision to be responsible for themselves and for the environment.

Dr. Lucky Pruthvi Raj, Director, NCLP, Bellary, addressing the gathering congratulated Don Bosco institutions for their social involvement and developmental activities. He added that although the government following the noble ideals of Ambedkar encourages the education of every child under14, there are 40,000 children who are school drop outs. He also expressed his desire to see Hospet as a totally child labour free Taluk.

Fr. Mathew Thomas, Secretary YaR, South Asia in his address said that Yuvaspandhana is a wonderful opportunity to make new friends, learn new things. He exhorted the participants to make the maximum use of the opportunities available. He also appreciated the organizers of the fellowship. Fr. Mathew said that the plight of the child labourers is heart wrenching. He added that education is crucial in the eradication of child labour and it is a need of the hour. Children are not only the future but also the present of the society.

Fr. Y. S. Peter, Parish Priest, Hospet in his address expressed his feeling that DB Hospet has brought security to the Young at Risk. He exhorted the children to make use of all the opportunities provided to excel in life.

The children from Don Bosco Davangere commenced the programme with a prayerful dance. The cultural programmes included a folk song and dance from Don Bosco Vimala Nivas, Boarding, Child Labour Centre, Hospet, theme song cum dance from Don Bosco Davangere, and dance from Don Bosco Hospet. Fr. Regy Pulikot taught action songs. Fr. Michael Konnanickatt compeered the programme. Mr. Hyder, Don Bosco, Hospet proposed the vote of thanks.

The first session in the afternoon was the orientation programme animated by Fr. Jude Anand. He enlightened the children on the need to have a goal and plan in life. The children were asked to envision their future and write down their programme of life.

The orientation programme was followed by a rally around Hospet town, starting from Don Bosco Hospet. The rally was meant to create awareness among the public with regard to the protection and preservation of the environment.

The rally was followed by another session animated by Fr. Michael Konnanickatt. Each child is a gift from God and has a specific contribution to make to the society. Children are not only the future but also the present of the society. The day came to an end with the cultural programmes from various centres.

Fr. Joseph Kunnumel (Prasad)