|Democratic Republic of the Congo – Salesian education in Goma|
(ANS – Goma) – The Salesian “Don Bosco Ngangi” School in Goma has made twinning arrangements with the “John Paul II” Primary School in Maleo, in the Province of Lodi, Italy, which will benefit children and teachers in both schools.
A very friendly relationship has now been built up between the pupils in the two schools with the frequent exchange of letters and photographs, drawings and others things. The main idea has certainly been to establish a cultural relationship, but there have also been practical signs of solidarity.
Antonietta Bonvini, a teacher from the “John Paul II” Institute says: “We wanted to give our pupils a new sort of experience that would open their eyes to other parts of the world, and to other children living in situations different from theirs with suffering and deprivation. While we were thinking how we might proceed, we became aware of the school in Goma…and we saw that that was the right way to go.”
The plan of the teachers was soon taken up with enthusiasm by the pupils: “When we first spoke to the children about it they started asking questions and wanted to start writing at once. (…) At Christmas they were all anxious to send messages to Goma, and some of the older ones also wanted to find ways of sending presents there.” It was then that they began to collect funds, and thanks to the generosity of the children and their families obtained more than was expected.
There were similar reactions in Goma. Giulia Cavalletto, from the Salesian NGO “International Voluntary Service for Development” (VIS) explains. “When someone told me that a school in Italy wanted to be twinned with us, I immediately realised what a unique experience it could be for the children, but I was also worried about the problems we might meet.”
Burt right from the start it became clear that for the children it was just a way of making new friends quite apart from the distance and the differences. The VIS Volunteer continues: “The children are happily and easily getting involved. Every time I go into class to collect or to deliver the letters they are run up and ask if there is any post for them. They are very enthusiastic and talk about the children in Italy as their best friends. For example, Fabrice wrote: ‘I have three friends: Batigole, Espoire, Baraka. And now I have you, my fourth friend …’”.
“The cultural, economic and social differences are great,” Giulia Cavalletto concludes, “but the children have the ability to become close and to become friends simply as they are.”
It is possible to read part of the correspondence between the children in Goma and their twins in Maleo on the VIS site.