KOLKATA, (C.M. Paul) – Salesian provincial of Guwahati Fr V.M. Thomas (Vattathara), who heads India’s more than 130,000 Catholic Religious, will address the 23rd session of UN Human Rights Council now underway in Geneva.
The event is co-sponsored by the Holy See, France and Costa Rica, from the office of the High Commissioner and the Right to Education forum. During the Side Event Fr Thomas Vattathara (SDB) and Sr. Molly Kaniampady (FMA) will present the best practice at the Don Bosco Institute (DBI) where the Salesians and the Salesian Sisters work for the vocational training of under privileged youth through many practical and job-oriented courses on tourism management and hospitality sector.
Fr. Thomas will present a paper on “Youth and Employment – Don Bosco Institute Kharguli” – at a parallel session held at the UN Headquarters in Geneva, 4 June. The institute which he founded caters to youth of northeast India.
“I will highlight the talented, intelligent, capable, and diverse youth who are second to none in the world… but unless taken care of will be a wasted potential,” writes Fr Thomas from Geneva giving a preview of his talk.
Fr Thomas says, “The DBI was a response to youth situation of Northeast India offering many vocational courses and leadership trainings to prepare them for the world of work, and wean them away from the malaise of militancy, insurgency and social deviant behaviours.”
“Empower them with knowledge, equip them with skills and positive attitudes to take on the world and lead,” says Fr Thomas explaining the strategy he uses to stimulate the environment created for hundreds of tribes to learn to live and work together.
Over the years some 8,000 youth were trained and employed by DBI; 1,500 Below Poverty Line youth were trained in driving, weaving, embroidery and animal husbandry; 45,000 youth trained in soft skills and leadership for democratic living and participation; 3,500 Government School teachers empowered to give quality education to rural youth as well as 1,000 Government School Principals were trained at Gov’s request.
The UNHRC council began its 23rd session on May 27 and will conclude on June 14.
The council will hear a wide range of human rights issues presented through more than 100 reports at the sessions. It will also study the human rights situations in more than 40 countries.
Fr Thomas, a graduate of Educational Administration, Planning and Social Policy from the Harvard University (USA), is the president of the Conference of Religious India, a national association of India’s nearly 600 religious congregations.
Since 1962, he has been working in northeastern India, a strife-torn region where security forces and secessionist groups have been accused of indulging in gross human rights violations.
The 62-year-old priest is known for innovative initiatives for human right promotion of children and young people. He has been involved with peace promotion in conflict areas such as Assam and Odisha state in eastern India.
The Bodo areas of Assam had last year witnessed large scale violence between Bodo tribal people and Muslim settlers. Odisha’s Kandhamal was the scene of unprecedented anti-Christian violence nearly five years ago.
Fr. Thomas is a certified trainer in Human Resources Development from the American Society for Training and Development, and a visiting faculty member of Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration that trains India’s candidates for civil services.
The multifaceted personality is also a member of the Indian government’s National Resources Group for Education Guarantee Scheme and Innovative Education.