Benin - "Move with Africa". Educating young people with an open and international mind

31 May 2018

(ANS - Porto Novo) - How to make young people aware citizens? It is a question that affects all educators. Jerome Merckx, with the support of the Belgian NGO "Via Don Bosco", worked with his students for a year to help them acquire a civic culture that is open and international in scope. And that's why he took them to Benin.

Tell us about the VIA Don Bosco project that brought your students to Benin ...

In 2017, 3 other teachers and I, we decided to launch an international solidarity project within our school, the "Saint-Vincent de Paul" of Brussels. The aim was to address issues such as prejudices, stereotypes and discrimination, and 15 students were selected in the end.

Together with "VIA Don Bosco", we organized seminars on migrations and refugees, media education and gender equality. Then videos were produced to raise awareness among the other students on these issues and work done on organizing a week at a Salesian center in Benin.

Why participate in "Move with Africa"?

The project is a Global Solidarity Education (ECMS) initiative launched by the Belgian NGO "La Libre" with the participation of 8 other Belgian NGOs, including "VIA Don Bosco". It is a project that has a holistic approach to the role of young people in changing society. Being selected for a project that leads to an intercultural journey has helped motivate students. The workshops on Wednesday afternoons, the preparatory week-end and fund-raising are activities that require considerable effort ... But the idea of reaching other young people in Benin constitute a good prospect.

A few weeks after returning, do you already see changes among the students?

Most of them have opened their minds and now they question and challenge themselves more, rather than taking an attitude of judgment. For example, they changed their opinions on immigrants, society and the media, which play a major role in resolving these prejudices. Initially, they had an attitude of rejection towards these people, for fear that they would come to take away their jobs. Now they do not have the naiveté to believe that there are already ready-made solutions, but they do understand that rejection is not a reasonable answer.

The trip can also allow students to become more interested in the causes of economic inequalities, which push people to leave their countries in the hope of a better future.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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