Don Bosco for Migrants (DB4M) is the all-India initiative of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) for empowering migrant workers in India. The first nationally coordinated initiatives of the SDBs with young migrant workers were in 2012 and 2015. By 2018 there were 8 city level “Migrants’ Desks” at Chennai, Tiruppur, Thiruvananthapuram, Vijayawada, Mumbai, Dimapur, Guwahati, and Panjim By June 2023 the number of migrants’ desks had grown to 34 in as many cities and towns of India. During the initial months of Covid-19 the migrants’ desks coordinated with SDB centres across the country assisting migrant workers and their families with relief and support services.
Besides the SDB network spread across 25 states and union territories of India, DB4M collaborates also with all other groups – government and non-government organisations, church-based groups, rights activists – engaged with the safety, wellbeing and dignity of migrant workers. DB4M partnered with stakeholders in the sector on issues like the labour codes, safe migration, decent living, social security, occupational health and living and working conditions of migrant workers.
Though the founder of the SDBs, saint John Bosco, began his work young people migrating to Turin in Italy in search of work and livelihood, offering services to migrant workers is of recent origin for the SDBs in India. To understand the issues and challenges of migrant workers, research studies were initiated in 2017 in some major “destinations” and across 8 cities a study of 2400 migrant workers was made through in-depth personal interviews. Later, in 2021-22, detailed interviews were conducted with over 23000 migrant workers from across 15 cities. The profile of the migrant worker that emerged from this data helped sharpen the strategies of DB4M. The All-India 24*7 toll free helpline number (+91 9642 372 372) that was launched in May 2021 is still active and assist migrants in distress across India.
Activities and services currently being provided by the DB4M are – Safe migration, Pre-departure counselling, Transit centres, Migrants’ Desks, Decent working and living conditions, Educational support to children of migrant workers, Training in health and nutrition, Safety in the workplace, Engaging with stakeholders for just wages, rights and entitlements, Registration in government portals, Accident and Death Compensations, Support against wage theft, Toll-free help-line, Legal aid and Mediation, Source-Destination Connect. DB4M has recently initiated and set up district and state level forums of migrant workers and networking partners in destination and source locations across India.