Shillong, Nov. 21, 2018: A catholic priest’s Caring Ministry in Shillong has gifted 24 newly built homes to needy people. Christened Dong Don Bosco, the new village at Nongkohlew within the Mawlai Constituency was inaugurated and blessed, Sunday 18 November 2018.
“The new dong [village] is named ‘Dong Don Bosco’ after the patron saint of youth, and the 24 homes honours Blessed Virgin Mary,” says Salesian Fr Jose Chunkapura SDB, founder of Caring Ministry.
Former Professor of Theology at Sacred Heart College Shillong, Father Chunkapura explains, “Dong Don Bosco is a ‘green field project’ where an entire hill-top (knoll) was purchased and divided into 24 plots of 1,500 square feet each, and were registered in the names of 24 needy families that didn’t own a house.”
After the houses and toilets were built on each of these plots, each family now has also a small area of land to use as a kitchen garden.
The Dong Don Bosco also has a common playground / children’s park area of 2,500 square feet area cut from the hillock.
Mawlai’s Member of Legislative Assembly Bah Process T. Sawkmie inaugurated the new Dong Don Bosco at the start of the ceremonies on 18th November in the presence of President of FKJGP, Mawlai Bah Marbud K Dkhar.
Out of the 24 houses of the project, 11 have been completed. Construction of the remaining 13 are in progress. Meanwhile, the 11 new houses were blessed by Fr. Chunkapura at the end of the Holy Mass celebrated in the outdoors in the children’s park area against the scenic backdrop of the rolling hills.
Kong Brigita Rynjah, the local Secretary Balang, said “It significant that the very first function in the new dong of this entirely Catholic village is the open-air Holy Eucharist celebrated in the village grounds.”
During the brief felicitation ceremony that followed the Eucharistic celebration, Fr. Chunkapura handed over the keys of the houses to all the 24 beneficiaries.
“I congratulate and thank Fr. Chunkapura for this great initiative of providing housing for the landless and homeless, for his vision for the poor and his humanitarian service to the people of Meghalaya during the past 30 years, particularly for the care of children affected by rickets,” said MLA Bah Sawkmie.
Bah Sawkmie also promised to continue to support further development of the village by pushing infrastructure initiatives such as black-top road.
The local Rangbah Shnong Bah Baiaineh Diegngdoh thanked Bah Sawkmie for providing the village with infrastructure facilities already completed (jeepable road and culvert).
Bah Diegngdoh also placed on record the undying gratitude of all the beneficiaries to Fr. Chunkapura, saying “Dear Fr. Jose, it is a dream come true for us to have our own house. Thank you.”
Bah Vincent Marweiñ the supervising engineer who volunteered his services, and Bah Klington Nongsteng the contractor felt happy and proud to have been a part of this humanitarian initiative.
Besides the houses at Dong Don Bosco, three other houses for the poor have been completed at Phudmuri (Mawlai) and one at Laitlum. Another one at Umsaw is under construction.
Caring Ministry (‘Caring for Disabled Children’) is a service started by Fr. Chunkapura in 1989 for the care of children affected by rickets, which at that time was widespread in Shillong. Over these past 29 years, Caring Ministry has treated over 26000 children. Currently Caring Ministry is treating more than 7600 children affected by rickets from various parts of Meghalaya.
Besides the care of rickets-affected children, Caring Ministry also runs a free elementary school and a free tuition centre for children from very poor families. Caring Ministry also takes care of the educational needs (school fees, uniform, and books) of about 150 poor children who are enrolled in 8 different schools. Moreover, several young people are being supported for their college education and for various courses in technical education (electrician, automobile mechanic, and beautician courses).