MEXICO: Students volunteer in Tijuana
Salesian Missionary Volunteer program helps form compassionate leaders
(MissionNewswire) Salesian Missionary Volunteer Program with the Salesian Province of the United States in California recently carried out its first missionary expedition since the COVID-19 pandemic. Twelve students from St. Francis High School in Watsonville, Calif., guided by two of their teachers, the school’s director, and the provincial coordinator of the volunteer program, carried out their volunteer experience with the Salesian Tijuana Project in Mexico.
Volunteers spent their time feeding more than 800 homeless people who had been deported from the U.S. or were trying to cross the border. They also visited an orphanage for children living with AIDS who had been abandoned by their parents.
In addition, volunteers helped maintain and clean two youth centers, both located on the outskirts of the city. Domingo Savio Oratory is situated in an area with two gangs that have violent tension but respect the youth center. At the Don Bosco Oratory, the Salesian religious community lives and hosts a group of 80 mothers and their children from all over Latin America. There is also an elementary school and workshops.
The experience was transformative for the young volunteers. One said, “It has been an experience that definitely changed the way I see the world.” Another volunteer expressed a desire to become a missionary for a longer period.
A program representative said, “Salesian Missionary Volunteer Program is not only making a difference in the lives of those it serves, but it is also helping to shape the next generation of compassionate leaders who will continue to bring positive change to the world. In a time where the world seems to be divided by borders and politics, the Salesian Missionary Volunteer Program reminds us of the importance of reaching out to those in need, regardless of where they come from. The program is an inspiring example of how we can all make a difference, one person at a time, and how we can work toward creating a more compassionate and just world.”
The Salesian Center in Tijuana houses a refectory and other project activities. Since 1987, it has been providing services to migrants and poor youth living on the border between Mexico and the U.S. The goal of the Tijuana Salesian Project is to create an extensive educational network in areas where poor youth are at risk of social exclusion. The project took shape through Salesian oratories and educational centers where children grow up learning to share faith, culture, and sports within their communities.
The Salesian Center acts as a hub for migrants who, besides much-needed material help, are also offered a familiar and welcoming environment. They can access haircuts, a change of clothes, a shower, and an opportunity to call and make contact with their families. The Salesian Center also has a partnership with the Red Cross and local volunteer doctors who offer psychological and medical help.
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Salesian Missions – Mexico
UNICEF – Mexico