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Father Joe with older boys at Don Bosco Center

In Memorial to Rita Mulholland 

Rita Mulholland was one of those rare human beings one comes across in life. She joined us not merely as a volunteer but as a person passionately interested in the most disadvantaged in society especially in the most vulnerable section – children. It did not take much time for her to endear herself to the children. She gave herself totally to the children. With great sensitivity she thought of new ways of helping children to learn. She used to bring all kinds of modern gadgets to capture their attention and finally she ended up getting three of her students from the university to come over to India and teach the children the basic elements of computer skills and eventually the three young ladies were teaching them through Skype. All of the expenses were met by her!

She loved in giving with grace and a sense of joy! We were shocked to hear about her untimely demise on Jan. 13, 2014. We believe she is with us in spirit! We miss her a lots.

Fr. Joe Fernandez

Executive Director, Don Bosco Center

An Update from Dr. Rita Mulholland, IASE volunteer - July 2012

In June 2012, three graduate students in special education from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey traveled with Associate Professor Rita Mulholland to the Don Bosco Center in Cochin, India. Our goal was to establish relationships with the children and support their English language development. We provided six netbooks (computers) and set up e-mail and Skype accounts for the children. Upon returning to the United States, we all met twice weekly for four months with individuals and small groups to provide opportunities for them to develop English skills, which we believe will give them an added advantage when looking for employment.

Click here to view a poster of the experience.                                 Dr. Rita Mulholland

My Unforgettable Experience at the Don Bosco Center

by Rita Mulholland

February 2012

I had a desire and some time to devote to volunteering, so I visited and decided on the Don Bosco Center in Cochin, INDIA. This has been an IASE Volunteer Service Project site since 2006. The center was developed after begging was banned by the City Corporation of Cochin in 1973. They started a home for street children. The task of running the home was entrusted to the Salesians of Don Bosco. Today, that humble venture has developed into a well-integrated rehabilitation movement for children with behavioral and emotional problems who may have been physically and/or sexually abused, sold by parents for beggary, forced into child labor, or have had various conflicts with the law. The vision of Don Bosco is to reach out to the children of the street and to the young at risk, to inspire and support them towards a new life, and to help them get integrated back into the mainstream society.

This multi-faceted program serves 300+ children/youth daily via different centers. When I thought about what I would do when spending time with the children, I decided to take two laptops, a Flip Camera, and a SMART pen to familiarize them with new technology. For seven days I moved between the buildings for the elementary and secondary-age boys, and the girls. Father Joe Fernandez, the Director, welcomed me and taught me so much during my visit and Father Anthony was available to be the van driver when we toured off the campus. All of the Fathers and other staff appear to have established great relationships with these students.

Sneha Bhavan (young boys): I could only smile when I arrived at this center! The kids were doing what all kids do; they were running around, playing, cleaning, yelling and laughing! They could not get enough of the software Newsmaker where they wrote short pieces, selected weird looks for themselves and then ran the video to produce a movie. I loved their court system of speaking up in front of each other to discuss any problems they faced that day. I happened to be there for a birthday party and various students sang with the microphone. This center clearly has created a wonderful environment for these students to grow up in and become independent, successful adults.

Don Bosco (older boys): This center is very comprehensive, as are the other centers. In the course of the day, the schedule allows for schooling, outdoor and indoor games, study hall, prayer, chores, and group talks as needed.

Father Anthony, the great van driver

Valsalya Bhavan (girls): Two sisters have created a wonderful home environment for the 25 girls who have filled their days with a variety of activities as well as going to school in the local neighborhood. I found the girls to be talkative, social, engaging, and inquisitive. They loved using the flip camera and SMART pens to tape themselves, as well as the NewsMaker software where they created a story and then watched their own videos. I truly felt this was a real home with the girls willingly participating in their daily lives. While I was there, two weekly volunteers were working on conversational English with groups of girls. I can only praise this home as an excellent environment to support all these girls! A larger new building is presently under construction. It will be able to lodge about 40 girls and have a large outdoor recreational area for them. I absolutely loved being there!

In the back row, Marg Csapo hugs a girl at Valsalya Bhavan.

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