(ANS – Manzini) – Thanks to collaboration between the Agency for International Development of the USA (USAID), the Mission Procure of New Rochelle and the Salesians of Swaziland, thousands of poor children, affected by HIV/AIDS or simply in need can receive a hot meal in schools and in aid centres.
This operation is possible because of a donation of over 75 tons of food from “USAID” as part of its “Food for Peace” programme. In this context the Salesian Missions and the “Manzini Youth Care” organization of the local Salesians, because of their trustworthiness, were selected by the Agency as partners in the distribution of the food.
This March 27th, at the Manzini Youth Care Centre of Matsapha, an event took place attended by the Minister of Education and Training, the Hon. Wilson Ntshangase; his First Secretary Patrick Muir; the Director of Agricultural Policies, George Ndlangamandla, representing the Minister of Agriculture, the National Director of USAID , Natalie Kruse-Levy; the Chargé d’Affaires of the American Embassy, Craig Cloud, representing the Ambassidor, Earl Irving; and Fr. John Thompson from the Salesian Community of Manzini.
Dr. Cloud explained how, thanks to this initiative, more than 20,000 children in 45 schools of the four regions of the country would receive a hot meal from March to December 2012. He also presented this collaboration as an example of a union of forces to produce greater results.
Conveying the message of the Ambassador, Dr. Cloud recalled the difficulties facing so many Swazi children, whether for their schooling or in the case of families affected by problems such as HIV/AIDS, unemployment of poverty. “In response to this situation, the Salesian Mission and Manzini Youth Care are working with some of the most disadvantaged groups, including children, the elderly and disabled. Their work is an inspiration to us all. Their residential homes for former street children and OVC demonstrate their commitment to bettering the lives of the poorest of the poor”, was written in the message.
Also the Hon. Ntshangase stressed the difficult food situation of many minors, quoting that in the whole country those schools which provide at least one meal a day for the students get the greatest number of applications.
Dr.. Ndlangamandla, after thanking USAID for the donation, was pleased by the choice of the Salesians as partners in the distribution: “However, even if the food may be available, there is always the challenge of accessibility by all. That is how organisations like Manzini Youth Care come in to help vulnerable to have access to the food”.
On his part Fr. Thompson said that the food would not only benefit the schoolchildren, but also some needy old people and some aid organizations.
(ANS – Rome) – For several years, on the initiative of the Christian Cultural Movement, the 16th of April has been proposed as World Day against Child Slavery. Still today there are thousands of millions of minors subject to various forms of slavery and exploitation.
Iqbal Masih, a12 year old Christian Pakistani boy, was killed on the 16th of April 1995 by the textile Mafia of his country because he had denounced the exploitation. Iqbal had worked as a slave in the textile industry from the age of four, but once he was free, he became a witness to this experience, even speaking before parliaments and in Universities of the United States and the European Union.
The educational work of Salesians and Salesian Family groups around the world in many cases starts with the rescue of minors from various forms of slavery. In its convention on ”The Preventive System and Human Rights” , the Salesian Congregation reiterated its will to work in this field. On this occasion several experiences were related.
In Ecuador, for example, the Salesians promote various projects for the rescue and return to society of street and working children. The story of Washington bears witness to this. He turned up 15 years ago in the yard of the Salesian school ofi Guayaqui, seat of the Foundation Project “Street Children”. He had run away from home at the age of six, escaping from the ill-treatment received from his parents. “I finished up on the streets begging for coins, and then drifted into other vices“, he recalls. A Salesian priest invited him to stay. “Everything changed”, says the young man, now aged21, “I went to class, I learned to read and write and to do carpentry”.
Every year between 10 and 15 boys leave the Foundation with trade skills and tools needed to find work. Washington, however, decided to stay in the centre and give carpentry instruction. He told the daily paper “El Comercio”, “Everything I know I have learned here, and now I want to teach others.
Another centre of excellence of the Salesians in Ecuador for the safeguarding of children at risk is The “Centre for Nutrutional and Pedagogical Support” of Cuenca, promoted by the Salesian Foundation “Paces”. Every day the centre assists 120 vulnerable young boys, girls and adolescents , so preventing child labour and guaranteeing continuation in the formal educational system.
The commitment to vulnerable children in danger of exploitation “looks to a different culture of childhood, where all are equal”, explains Edgar Gordillo, the Director of the Salesian Foundation “Paces”.
(ANS – Rome) – A new number of the Acts of the General Council, n. 413, will be published shortly. The Rector Major will review in depth the theme of the 27th General Chapter; the Regulator, Fr. Francis Cereda, will present the guidelines for starting the preparations for the principal assembly of the Congregation and of the Provincial Chapters. The prayer which will accompany the course and the celebration of the GC27 is the same one prescribed for the preparation of the Bicentenary of the birth of Don Bosco.
Right from the announcement of the theme of the GC27, the reaction of the Salesian world has been very positive. Many Provincials echoed the official communication with letters sent to the confreres and to members of the Salesian Family, inviting them to a communion of intention and prayer. The Rector Major has received many messages expressing appreciation for the choice of theme.
In the next number of the Acts of the General Council, Fr. Chávez will comment in depth and great exactitude on the theme of the GC2, offering a range of personal and community reflection. The text, which is under translation, will facilitate a Salesian understanding of the witness of gospel radicalism.
The prayer, which is being sent to the Congregation in general, to accompany the preparation and celebration of the General Chapter, is the same one proposed for the triennium in preparation for the bicentenary of Don Bosco. The choice was motivated by the fact that the GC 27 comes in almost at the peak of the celebration of the bicentenary and will doubtlessly mark the starting point of a new period in the history of the Congregation.
This prayer, suggested for the end of evening prayer, will bracket the Salesian’s day, which traditionally starts with the prayer of entrustment to Mary Help of Christians.
Fr. Francis Cereda, who for the second time has received the mandate of Regulator of the General Council, is making ready the guidelines needed to start the process of preparation for the GC27 in each of the Provinces, with particular reference to local communities and Provincial Chapters.
The circular letter of the Rector Major and the Guidelines prepared by the Regulator, along with the Technical Commission of the GC27, besides being published in the next number of the AGC, will be available in the first part of May in the appropriate section of sdb.org dedicated to the GC27. We are trying to offer as soon as possible working material so that the Provinces can prepare the confreres, communities and their own Provincial Chapters, can involve young people and lay people and that we create a cultural and spiritual movement inspired by the theme of the GC27. Don Cereda affirms – “We are alsmost two months ahead in comparison with the GC26, when the letter of the Rector Major for the convocationand the Guidelines for the preparations for the GC25 were published in the month of July.
Prayer to Don Bosco
Saint John Bosco,
Father and Teacher of youth,
docile to the gifts of the Spirit and open to the reality of your times
you were for the young, especially the little ones and the poor,
a sign of the love and the special care of God.
Be our guide as we walk the path of friendship with the Lord Jesus,
so that we may discover in Him and in his Gospel
the meaning of our lives
and the source of true happiness.
Help us to respond with generosity
to the vocation we have received from God,
so that in daily life we may be
builders of communion,
and may collaborate with enthusiasm,
and in communion with the whole Church,
in creating a civilisation of love.
Obtain for us the grace of perseverance
in living a high standard of Christian life,
according to the spirit of the beatitudes;
and grant that, guided by Mary Help of Christians,
we may one day be with you
in the great family of heaven. Amen