Kenya - From the Oratory to Africa to serve young people

04 September 2018

(ANS - Nairobi) - Interview with Paolo Vaschetto, 48, Salesian brother in the footsteps of Don Bosco between Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria. "My relationship with Don Bosco was born in everyday life, without 'special effects'. I attended the Salesian Oratory of Bra, a town in the province of Cuneo, where I was born, and I felt a desire to serve the Lord in dedicating myself to young people, especially the poorest. And the opportunity to live and work in Africa did the rest, giving impetus to my vocation."

How was your passion for the mission born?

During my first years of religious life, my father, agricultural technician and former Salesian student, volunteered for the Salesian mission in Embu, Kenya. During the summer holidays I joined him for a month, and while he was making use of his skills in the agricultural field, I began to toss the seeds of missionary life thanks to the contact with the poorest children, to faith lived with intensity and to the breathtaking landscapes offered by nature.

And how did it develop?

For seventeen years in Africa I have renewed every day the promise of devoting all my strength to realize the educational project of Don Bosco and I have always tried to do my best first in Akure, in Nigeria, then in Sunyani, in Ghana, and finally in Ibadan, back again to Nigeria. I have held administrative positions but, fortunately, always in tandem with the animation in the Oratory, in centers for street children or in the villages of the forest.

You have been living in Nigeria for several years. How is the presence of Salesians organized?

We have centers in eight cities and, as per our style, we work mainly for the poorest and most abandoned youth. The technical and vocational schools, parishes, youth centers and houses that welcome street children are just some of the works that honor our Congregation and the Catholic Church in a State in which religious matters are not infrequently the cause of conflicts. The professional training of young people, together with a solid human and civil formation, are the foundations for a more peaceful and tolerant society.

And the mission of Ibadan, in which you operate?

Don Bosco in Ibadan has the "mission" to form eighty students of philosophy committed to reflect on how Christian culture can relate to today's culture and most of them will follow a religious or priestly vocation. Moreover, the doors of the oratory are open every day to welcome young people, mainly Muslims, who are offered opportunities for human, cultural and religious formation. The poorest and most abandoned boys living on the street are part of the program called Bosco Boys Project.

Source: Mary Help of Christians


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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