Origin & Growth
There was growing awareness of the ever-increasing number of street children in the nooks and corners of Salem in the mid 1980s. Incredibly the plight of these children was not covered under any existing socio-political scheme or programme. They were not even considered in the population census of the state of Tamil Nadu. This alarming situation captured the attention of some students of philosophy, who have their academic centre at The Retreat, Yercaud, a hill station, 30 KM away from Salem. Basing on their discussions on how to cater to these street kids during their weekend service schemes, the genesis of a marvelous rehabilitation programme for the young at risk was set up and headed by Fr. Schlooz. The initial contact centres were at the City Bus Stand and at the Railway Junction. They were also working with the juveniles in the Government Observation Home.
Once a year these boys were taken to Retreat, Yercuad for a day of celebration. Then Fr. Francis Schlooz and Bro. Meril explored the possibility of working for the street children in the city of Salem. They felt the need of the shelter Home for the street boys. Hence, in 1988, the death Centenary year of Don Bosco, a centre at the present location was inaugurated. The centre was primarily meant for rag pickers and was only a night shelter. The rag pickers shop was started at the shelter and it was monitored by the boys. At this time only accommodation was provided and the boys managed their own food. They had their regular savings and non-formal education. From 1995 the children were stopped from rag picking and were enrolled into schools for regular formal education. They felt the need of the Shelter Home for the street boys to play, to sleep, to wash their clothes, to bath, and to rest at night. Hence, in the Centenary year of St. John Bosco, 1988, a building at the present location was inaugurated by the former District Collector of Salem Mr. M.F. Farroqi.
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