The second annual seminar on Participatory Action Research (PAR) by the Don Bosco National Forum for the Young at Risk (YaR) was held at Don Bosco Provincial House on 27-28 March, 2017. There were presentations from 22
PAR research coordinators. Coming from 16 centres in 9 cities and 6 states, they showed how the participation of children really made a difference. They are now becoming part of the solution to the simple problems of their centers. The centres are slowly being transformed as child-friendly and child-directed.
The researchers shared their findings in the presentations. Children who have been bullying before are now protectors of younger and weaker children. Children ensure that no food is wasted. The demand for calling together the focus group is made by children so that certain immediate issues can be sorted out. Children are more regular to school. Rushing to grab food has changed to orderly behaviour and volunteering to serve. Specific needs of children are addressed. Children express themselves freely at the various fora being created for this purpose.
Fr Thathireddy Vijayabhaskar, in charge provincial for the National Don Bosco YaR Forum, cited that It is God himself who has started Participation and Partnership as His Way of dealing with us human beings. Jesus continued the participatory tradition in the way he formed his disciples and carried out his mission. He also said that he would present this wonderful concept to the Salesian Provincial Conference for further study and elaboration.
The Seminar was preceded on 25th and 26th March by the midterm Monitoring and review. Even in the review participation was practiced at its best. Mr. Kurian Katticaren who conduct- ed the mid-term evaluation, had visited most of the centers to study the impact of PAR. He presented his findings & views. YaR Province coordinators, the Directors/ representatives of the centres where PAR is being modelled presented their experience and evaluation of the programme. The Facilitation team had its time for voicing their views & learning’s.
The Salesian Sisters initiated PAR independent- ly at a centre of their own at Tiruppur, Tamil Nadu. Sr. Moksha, the National Coordinator of YaR for the Salesian Sisters, was present for the seminar. Fr Vatti Balashowry, the Principal of Don Bosco Academy and Senate member of Mahatma Gandhi University, Nalgonda, came with 3 staff members to learn about PAR so that they too could initiate the same process at their campus that caters from KG to PG.
Some of the researchers who were practising PAR in the previous year‟s became the resource persons to train the fresher’s into the process. Two full days were dedicated for this purpose. The seminar and the related programmes gave the researchers a sense of purpose and satisfaction at their own growing capabilities. The Directors were happy and requested the training for all their staff in PAR process. Participation is adding value to the Preventive System of Don Bosco which is the foundation for the Salesians who care for the Young at Risk in South Asia.