The history of PARA is inter-twined with the history of Don Bosco Mission, Ravulapalem. From the very beginning of the mission, the founding members guided by the first director, Fr Chacko Thattil, had been engaged, even if only in a non-structured manner, in the economic development and the social upliftment of the people, the mission was accompanying.
Several developmental activities benefiting especially the fishing community at Bobbarlanka and the agricultural labourers at large had been undertaken. In the wake of the ravaging Godavari floods of August 1986, Fr M.T. Sebastian, along with Fr M.C. Abraham, Fr T.D. John and Fr Jose Alappat, launched systematic relief and rehabilitation programme under the twin banners of Don Bosco welfare centre and Don Bosco health centre.
As a follow up action of the flood relief programme it was decided along with the house council that a society would be registered to carry out the social action initiative of Don Bosco Mission. This initiative self mandated a shift in emphasis from social welfare to social justice. To reflect this shift of emphasis the society was to be named PARA and it was registered in September 1988. Fr. Thomas Pallithanam was made the first Director. In Telugu, PARA means Spade, which is the symbol of livelihood of the marginalized, not only of the Parish but of the whole region. Over the years, there have also been other shifts of emphasis. Particularly important was the shift from a purely class perspective to caste and gender perspective in its work of emancipation.
PARA initially operated from the Don Bosco campus and limited its activities to the Parish. Later, as the activities and area of operation increased, the office was shifted to rented premises in the town. The office was shifted back to Don Bosco Campus when more space became available there.
In 1995, land was acquired for PARA and an office cum training centre named Ekalavya was inaugurated and dedicated to the oppressed Bahujana of the area, in September 1996 by Fr. Provoost of COMIDE. The name Ekalavya reflects the “am hares” and “anawim” theme of the Bible and helps symbolize the people of concern. The same year, Fr P.G. Francis was appointed the Assistant Director of PARA.
In 1990, PARA began to be funded by Bread for the World for its regular programmes. In 1993 PARA initiated the Guntur initiative (GI) and the East Godavari Initiative (EGI) with support from BFW. Since 1997 EGI and GI have been expanded and new initiatives started in Cuddapah, Krishna and Nalgonda under the banner – in secular terms – Dalit Bahujan Front and in our own parlance – lay project. Also in 1997 PARA has taken up the responsibility of identifying, animating, resources supporting and accompanying 5 organizations in Krishna and 5 others in West Godavari.
a) To promote the rights and entitlements of the poor agricultural labourers through setting up of rights bodies;
b) to protect and promote human rights especially of the Dalit Bahujans;
c) to set up viable cooperatives for savings and credit and entrepreneurial development and empowerment of women;
d) to enhance access to primary universal education to child labourers and school dropouts;
e) to set up Community Based Rehabilitation for the Differently Abled People;
f) to strive for the eradication of Manual Scavenging ;
g) to revive and rejuvenate traditional culture and evolve an alternate culture by promoting folk arts and the values that permeate folk art;
h) to reach out to the subaltern youth for their own empowerment.
RAVULAPALEM – 533 238
EAST GODAVARI DT.
(08855) 25 50 10 – PARA