ARGENTINA: More than 12,000 Youth Have Received Training Since 1983, Thanks to Salesian Graduate
(MissionNewswire) In 1983 in Santa Cruz, Argentina, former Salesian student Marcos Oliva Day — along with his wife Maria Laura Gaona — started Knowing our House. This nonprofit foundation offers social, educational, environmental and sports programs for youth.
New organization headquarters were opened recently and named Enrique Götz, in honor of a key figure in the early years of the foundation. The new building offers a wide living room, classrooms and spaces to accommodate various student groups and others.
Marcos Oliva Day, a former District Attorney and an avid kayaker, wished to teach youth to love, care and respect the place in which they live and to provide an opportunity for its exploration. The Knowing our House foundation protects the natural and cultural heritage of Puerto Deseado through this program, which is now recognized and emulated worldwide. To date, more than 12,000 youth have received training at the foundation and many have gone on to become instructors.
The foundation offers several courses in a variety of topics. “Training as monitors” is for teenage volunteers who study outside school hours with the support of the teachers of the Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia Austral and Universidad de La Plata. “Canoe in the family” takes place on the weekends with the support of the Club Náutico Capitán Oneto and other local municipalities and offers free lessons in sailing and canoeing while involving family members of all ages. “Organic gardening” teaches young people to plant and harvest crops and “Work experience for foreign volunteers” trains youth from Japan, France, England and Switzerland.
The youth who take part in these courses can communicate with sailors, writers, biologists, conservationists, artists and travelers arriving in Puerto Deseado while cultivating their imaginations and learning to appreciate different cultures in a respectful way.
This program has been so successful it has been replicated in other parts of the world. Robin Ruddock, history and biology professor at Stranmillis University College, Queen’s University, Belfast, began a similar program in Ireland as has kayaker, José Jaramillo, project developer at Río Gallegos, Chile and Marcos’ sister, Emma Olive Day, who has brought the program to 26 Schools in San Isidoro.
During the inauguration ceremony of the new building, Mayor Luis Ampuero recognized the foundation’s work and its contribution to the community throughout many years.