DON BOSCO: Early years
Don Bosco is synonymous with education and youth-work worldwide and a household name in Northeast India. Johnny Bosco was born when the agrarian was slowly making way for the industrial in Europe. He in some way was a child of change who went on to become a significant transforming force in the Europe of 19th century. Born on 16 August 1815, he lost his father when he was only two. Adverse circumstances conspired against Margaret, his mother. They were poor, the breadwinner of the family died suddenly and the elder step-son Anthony was unreasonable and unyielding. Young Johnny inherited the indubitable courage and dynamism of his devout mother who, against all odds, groomed her children well with her limited possibilities. She was the most significant earthly driving force behind all he was later to achieve. She taught him to rely on God and Mother Mary, especially when the going was tough.
His Plan for the young
Johnny was a born leader and mastered every art that he required to maintain this leadership through music, magic, gymnastics and most of all, prayer. Ordained priest on 5 June 1841, he decided to do what his heart longed for, to work for poor and abandoned youth. He pursued the motto “Give me souls, take away the rest”. He gathered his enthusiastic co-workers into a religious society and called them ‘Salesians’ and they continue this magnificent work in 132 countries today.
Radically responding to the challenges of the times was the raison d’être of Don Bosco’s life. Undertaking activities considered insolent in his day, he attracted the wrath of some authorities. He dared differ with many and looked across and beyond the familiar waters of rudderless, snug existence most citizens of Italy were familiar with. The Italy of his day was in a social quagmire with mass migration from villages to cities in a fledgling industrial country. Brisk industrialization brought about swift growth in economy but the living standards of the working class declined and decayed rapidly with several social and moral evils to boot. Young Johnny Bosco, a youth in penury himself, perceived the impending danger and plunged heart and soul into the throes of this absolutely uncharted territory of youth apostolate utterly unheard of and possibly unorthodox in his day.
Neither did he have the men nor the means but was equipped merely with a compassionate heart. He knew that the souls of the poor youth who came to the cities of Italy would be irreparably doomed without his decisive and instantaneous intervention. His being was afire with a burning zeal for the souls of these young people. He ventured out with tucked-in soutane and mingled freely with the young in the playgrounds, farms, factories and prisons. He was almost sent to a mental asylum and considered unfit for normal social intercourse and attempts were made on his life. He cared little for what people thought of him, for deep in his heart he knew God and Mary were by his side, and they on occasions miraculously provided him with resources for sustaining his work. Today he is raised to the altars as ‘Father and Teacher of Youth’ – an acknowledgement by the universal Church.
Salesians of Don Bosco, Guwahati Province
As true sons of Don Bosco, the Province of Guwahati also feels an intense impulse to do different things and things differently. Don Bosco Socio-Technical Institute, Tezpur (DBSTI) seeks to address at least some of the pertinent problems that plague today’s youth. We ask ourselves: What is it that Don Bosco would tell us should he revisit us here and now? The celebration of the Birth-Bicentenary of Don Bosco (1815-2015) which we now commence provides us with a propitious opportunity to innovatively rediscover the charism of our founder.
The youth of today, like those of Don Bosco’s times, are at crossroads, not only in India but the world over. The challenges they face are ever more intricate than those of yesteryears. DBSTI pledges to be a torchbearer in a rigorous effort to engage and aid the youth of the Northeast, and Tezpur in particular, to establish an identity and carve a respectable niche for themselves in society. We strive to accompany the young, whatever their past, whatever their upbringing, whatever their socio-economic grounding, to dream big and realise their aspirations; to liberate them from the clutches of debilitating road-blocks, whether they be physical, systemic or ideological.
Don Bosco Socio-Technical Institute
DBSTI has deliberately chosen Tezpur for this sui generis venture because it is considered to be the cultural capital of Assam. Culture, like religion, is integral to human existence providing it cohesion and making life meaningful. Devoid of it there remains but a morose mundane subsistence. The institute is set against the dazzling backdrop of the sparkling Brahmaputra, abiding immortal but redefining its purpose every moment with its undulating force and flow. The lush green tea gardens that so colourfully wrap the institute refresh and enliven both residents and visitors. The state-of-the-art twin architectural edifices accord at once a sense of elegance and beauty even to the passerby. The institute seeks to leverage the undying passion of youth to innovate, transform and renew the countenance of northeast India. The institute seeks to further leverage the vast network of renowned Don Bosco institutions worldwide, drawing inspiration from them and creating synergy.
Location: The institute is located at Mission Chariali, Tezpur, built on a scenic campus and well connected by road and air.