PHILIPPINES: Salesian missionaries present new agro-educational projects at Salesian Lay Volunteer Organization four-day retreat
(MissionNewswire) The Salesian Lay Volunteer Organization (SALVO) recently held a four-day immersion retreat for 35 volunteers in Davao City in the Bukidnon Province (Buda) on Mindanao Island in the Philippines. Volunteers learned about Salesian agro-educational projects in the region and shared their volunteering experiences.
The Salesian presence in Buda began with a vocational training center founded by an Italian missionary, Father Franco Uras, in the ancestral lands of the Lumads (the ethnic minorities of Mindanao). Today, there are two Salesian priests, 10 lay mission partners, and 15 students at the center.
Father Ariel Arias, from the Salesian Buda mission, says, “I was happy while listening to the sharing of SALVO volunteers’ insights after their experience: One shared that it was the first ever trip with deep purpose and meaning; another said that she would bring along her children next time. Still another one said that she would make this kind of activities a yearly event for her and her friends in their company.”
One of the projects presented to volunteers was the Don Bosco Agri-preneur Project which is focused on implementing agricultural development to improve the quality of life for youth and their families. The project provides skills training, farm research development and entrepreneurship to help families set up their own farms and sell their products.
“I am so happy because the volunteers expressed willingness to help and become part of the Buda project in their own way. Some offered help in the legal aspect of the project, while others expressed a willingness to help in the marketing of products,” says Fr. Arias.
He adds, “I am so happy because now many volunteers came to know more about Don Bosco Buda’s long-term vision, mission and directions for the indigenous youth. We hope that they in turn will help us more concretely in the realization of our mission through capacity building, agri-preneurial enterprises and socio-economic upliftment of the indigenous youth in Mindanao.”
Since 1950, Salesian Missions has been providing crucial help in the Philippines—working with at-risk youth, impoverished families and disaster victims. Humanitarian agencies warn of the dangers faced by the most disadvantaged children in the Philippines. According to UNICEF, there are at least 1.2 million children between the ages of 5 and 15 who are out of school and are being left behind. In addition, children born into the poorest 20 percent are almost three times more likely to die during their first five years as those from the richest 20 percent.
Salesian missionaries, supported by funding from Salesian Missions, were on the forefront of disaster relief during reconstruction after the Nov. 8, 2013 Super Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) devastated the country. According to United Nations estimates, 11.5 million people were affected by Haiyan and close to 1 million were displaced. More than half a million were homeless and living in the streets among the debris. Salesian missionaries mobilized all resources and efforts to aid the victims of this and other disasters.
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UNICEF – Philippines