The work of Fianarantsoa is a jigsaw puzzle of activities and interventions that complete the face of Don Bosco in this city and region of Madagascar. It includes the formation of young confreres, the parish, and the oratory with all its initiatives for the poorest children and teenagers of this suburban neighbourhood. It is home to thousands of families forced to flee the countryside that has been devastated by bandits (who not only rob but also kill). They came to pursue the 'dream' of a better life in the city. Instead they found themselves poorer and more confused than before, without home, work, school, social and medical assistance...
For these families and for the children we have activities such as literacy classes, entry to public schools, programmes for street children, single mothers, and distressed families... Every day we offer about 350 meals to children on our programmes. The activities that were set up twenty years ago to respond to the needs of the young people are still well-organized and efficient.
What we have not been able to secure is the financial coverage of these activities. At times we wondered whether it might be more prudent to limit or even stop some of the activities, but we didn’t and we never will. I have to tell you, we are enormously grateful to Divine Providence which for twenty years has been supporting our work for these young people, even though the coffers are always empty. It is a huge effort, but it's also beautiful and it encourages us to look for new and different sources to help these young people.
A few days ago a former street kid came to see us. He had been welcomed by our oratory and placed in the job training centre. Now he is working in a big company Antananarive. Earlier several young people that I had helped about twenty years ago came. One told me that he had started a small construction company, another a small company to dig wells. They both said, "Without the Don Bosco Oratory we could certainly never have achieved this."
Things like this make all the hard work and sacrifice worthwhile.