Barefoot Dreams In The Park

If Father V.M. Thomas wanted, he could have continued his mdps, or management development programmes for corporates, alongside his normal duties as a priest in Guwahati. After all, he is a Harvard-trained MBA who even now teaches at the prestigious XLRI, Jamshedpur, and the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy, Mussoorie, that trains civil service officers. But Fr Thomas’ calling was in providing educational opportunities to the deprived children and youth of the Northeast—helping them find their own place under the sun.

Over the past decade, the Don Bosco Youth Mission and Educational Services (DBYES), which Fr Thomas heads, has initiated many projects to educate and train scores of youth, in both formal schools and at informal youth development centres. But two experiments stand out: the Bosco Barefoot College (BBC) which helps empower school dropouts from the Northeast’s rural areas and the UNICEF-supported Deprived Urban Children (DUC) programme. The latter aims at getting as many of the 20,000 out-of-school children in Guwahati into classrooms.