DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, PUERTO RICO: Past Salesian Pupils Association Growing
(MissionNewswire) The Antilles Province Past Pupils of Don Bosco Association is growing, especially in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Started in 2011, the association has grown to include 1,740 alumni, who are working to give back locally and pay the lessons they learned forward to other poor youth currently being educated in Salesian-run programs.
The development of the association was made possible by the Provincial, Father Víctor Pichardo, the Provincial Delegate, Father Juan Linares, the Rectors of Salesian Houses and the Association’s President, Mr. Luis Ventura Llanos. Thanks to their efforts, nine local chapters attached to various Salesian-run programs have been set up bringing many generations of alumni together.
“It is great to see so many of our former students staying connected to their classmates and the programs where they received their education,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “There are many youth who will feel inspired by their success and will benefit from the valuable lessons the alumni are able to provide.”
According to UNICEF, nearly half of youth ages 13-18 are poor in the Dominican Republic. Many of these youth lack the access to education and training which would help them compete in the job market. Salesian programs focus on education and vocational training for youth to help them learn skills and trades to find employment and break the cycle of poverty.
The alumni in the Past Pupils of Don Bosco Association are working in the areas of education and community building. One chapter is organizing an annual Youth Easter event for all its alumni while another at the Sacred Heart of Jesus College in Santo Domingo is helping to run a youth center. Other chapters are working one-on-one to help poor families.
The local chapters meet regularly, some with as many as 200 alumni in attendance. Leaders have been elected and are in the process of drawing up regulations for each chapter’s functions. At a recent meeting in February, the chapter at the Salesian Technical Institute in Santo Domingo had more than 500 alumni and their families in attendance.
Currently, there are many members of the association taking part in an online school for leadership which began in 2013 and is slated to run for the next three years.
“We encourage all of the youth we have worked with over the years to give back to their local communities,” says Fr. Hyde. “The alumni are showing what a difference someone can make when they apply the skills learned at Salesian-run schools. We are very proud of our former students.”
UNICEF – Dominican Republic