Fr Piero Gavioli, SDB: "Since our arrival in Bukavu just over three years ago, we have chosen to offer a broad and unconditional welcome. During the day, the door of the Don Bosco Center is always open. We try to listen to those who come from outside with their problems, which often are of the type: 'My landlord has thrown me out because I have not paid the rent of the last three months; I had a small business, but I got sick and lost all my capital to cure myself; last night my children did not eat anything ... '".
"Our mission here," he continues, "is to welcome the children in the streets and offer them free vocational training. Moreover, with our resources, we help families to pay the school fees of at least one of their children - we helped 507 schoolchildren in the 2017/18 school year. But we cannot satisfy all the demands of the poor families of Bukavu."
Ad yet sometimes the story of some visitor enters deep into their hearts and the Salesians cannot let him or her go away empty-handed.
So it was with Rebecca, the mother of 8 children and a widow, when she asked for help for her youngest son, Joseph, who was born with hydrocephalus. The operation to treat him cost $ 500 and Rebecca had no chance of finding this money, why she knocked on the doors of the Don Bosco Center. The Salesians paid half the amount, the other half was put up by a relative of Rebecca, and the operation, though carried out with great delay, succeeded. Mother Rebecca now continues to carry bags of coal and wood on her back to feed her children and has at least one of her daughters go to school.
Another special case is Chantal, 24 years old. Born into a family of seven daughters, orphaned by a father at the age of 14, thanks to the hard work of her mother and several benefactors she went far in her studies. But when her mother died last year, she risked having to stop when she had reached the sixth year of Medicine. The Salesians paid a portion of her school taxes and got her both an exemption from payment and a scholarship.
Fr Gavioli concludes: "After reading these stories you can understand a little better what we do in our mission with the help we receive. For Rebecca, Joseph, Chantal, Enock, Jeannot, Albertine, Marcelline and many others."