|Brazil – Technology for social inclusion: the experience of Alexandre|
(ANS – Port Moresby) – A research doctorate in the University College of London allowed Shaun Larcom, a young English student, to get to know the situation in the Salesian Missions in Papua New Guinea and their positive influence on the local communities.
Young Shaun Larcom came to know Papua New Guinea thanks to a work experience in Port Moresby. After staying there for some months, he returned home and resumed his studies, but he retained his ambition to return to the South Pacific to carry out research on the relation between criminality and juridical pluralism in Papua New Guinea.
In the University Chaplaincy in London he came in contact with Fr. John Dickson, SDB, and through him with Fr. John Cabrido, a Philippino missionary in Vunabosco, who was great help to him: He says: “Not only did Fr. John Cabrido give me a warm invitation to visit, within a couple of weeks he had organized a two month itinerary for my fieldwork, including hosts, guides, translators and transport.”
From his research in the field, Larcom derived two significant results, one of which confirmed his hypotheses, while the other came to him as a complete surprise. What he expected to find, and what his econometric analysis showed, was that education seems to play a much greater role in reducing the propensity to engage in payback killings than harsh criminal penalties.
What the young student had not expected was the solid daily Gospel experience which he met in the Salesian communities. He modestly writes: “I am often struck by the radical message of the Gospel and how non-radical my own response can be. The same cannot be said of the Salesian missionary priests and Brothers that I met and lived with. They really have embraced Christ’s radical challenge to give up all and come and follow him. Leaving the comforts of home, including their families and friends, they live a life of service and prayer that reminds me of descriptions of the early church in the Acts.
The Salesian schools and technical institutes in Papua New Guinea offer many young people the chance of gaining an education which otherwise they would not have had. At Vunabosco the Salesian community runs a non-selective institute which admits as many students as possible, regardless of their academic ability. In a country where secondary and technical education is the reserve of very few, the Salesian schools offer a vital service to the citizens.
The students gain an excellent education, despite very limited resources, that helps them flourish and serve their communities when they go home. Larcom relates: “One of the former students of Bougainville, who I met, returned to his village and built a hydroelectric generator out of scrap, which provides regular electricity to the whole village.”
Shaun Larcom concludes: “I will always remember the feeling of peace and happiness that I experienced while living with the Salesian community at Vunabosco. It is through the lives of these men, and of others like them, that the Church derives its beauty and really shines a light on the world”.