NAVAJEEVAN BALA BHAVAN
Origin and History of Navajeevan
The services towards rehabilitation of street children in Vijayawada were initiated by the Salesians of Don Bosco when the Corporation of Vijayawada along with UNICEF approached Fr Johnson Moyalan, the then Director of Don Bosco, Pezzonipet, to begin a collaborative venture, in the beginning of 1988. The then Mayor of Vijayawada, Shri (Dr) Jandhyala Shankar extended all support including a piece of land, measuring about an acre at Poornandapet on the Eluru Canal Bund, close to the Railway Station, Vijayawada, and some financial help. Fr Johnson immediately accepted the work, and requested Fr Joseph Thekkedath, the then Provincial of Bangalore, to send a suitable person to begin the work. Accordingly, the Provincial sent Fr Joseph Roy Nallanadath, who was deeply involved in a similar work in Palluruthy, Cochin, and had initiated similar work in Bangalore earlier, in May 1988 to take up this project. Fr. Roy started moving to the railway stations and bus stations to meet the boys, while initiating talks and correspondence with the Corporation authorities. In fact, by October 1988 he was able to give care and support to over 240 boys and girls. The proposed land for the Shelter Home was made available to Don Bosco, after quite a struggle, by the beginning of 1989 and the construction started. The Shelter Home was named ‘Jawahar Sneha Bhavan’, and it was inaugurated by Shri Rajeev Sharma I.A.S. the District Collector, on 24th February 1990 at 8. 30 Am., in the presence of Dr. Jandhyala Shankar, the Mayor and M.G.V.K. Banu, IAS, the Commissioner.
Fr. Roy put in a lot of hard work to create rehabilitative atmosphere and practices at the Shelter Home. However, serious differences marred the relationship between the management of the Shelter Home and the Corporation authorities. Fr. Roy could not carry out all the activities that the Corporation wanted, 2 Save the child by leading him/her to Navajeevan. Sponsor the child to realize his/her dream. Due to the paucity of funds. Lack of proper objective, planning and the needed team members added fuel to the fire. It was more or less a one-man’s struggle. Given all these facts and the then ‘political’ slant of some of the local leaders involved, the whole enterprise came to a halt in January 1992. However, the Salesian Community, though in a low key, continued the work for the cause of street children.
It was only through the patient and painstaking efforts of Fr. Thomas Koshy, who had already become the Rector of Don Bosco, Pezzonipet, by 1990 that the institution was back on rail in 1993. At this point the work for the street children was re-launched as Navajeevan Bala Bhavan. Slowly he and his team rebuild a better rapport with the Corporation and the concerned local leaders and officials. Meanwhile, a definite work plan was developed preceded by the drafting of a clear-cut objective of reaching out to children of the street and to motivate them away from their ‘street addiction’ and to help them to be self-reliant and responsible citizens. Also, it was decided to register an organization independently of ‘Our Lady of Assumption’ parish at Pezzonipet, the parent organization.