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Panama – A green revolution by no means negligible

02 September 2020

(ANS - Panama City) - Santiago Corrales Rodríguez is a young past pupil of Don Bosco from Colombia and former President of the EcoClub of the Don Bosco Technical Institute in Panama City. Here he offers his testimony on the current challenge of the environment and its relationship with the Salesian charism.

The theme of the environment attracted me from an early age. During my adolescence, I had the opportunity to participate more consciously in these processes. I reconsidered my position in relation to the surrounding environment and I began to develop an ecological way of thinking, which led me to engage in my own little world.

In 2016 I was studying at the Don Bosco Technical Institute in Panama. The director of the time, Fr Ángel Prado, started a waste recycling plan in the school in collaboration with the 'Eco Creando' Foundation. Thus was born the committee for the recycling of our school, which two years later would become the 'EcoClub ITDB'.

Being part of this group meant for me to support my mother, who worked in the Foundation, and to share our concerns. It was my opportunity to share things with her, but also to generate real change in society.

I did not imagine what we would achieve as a group, as a school and as a neighborhood. Nor did I imagine what I would learn and how my environmental awareness and my personal training would be consolidated.

We have installed recycling points throughout the institution. We organized the ecological fashion show. We held a week for internal recycling which collected more than 3,500 kg of material. We enjoyed the ecological walks. And we managed to get the people of the neighborhood to use our school's collection center.

We have made alliances with companies dedicated to separate waste collection and with the 'Don Bosco Green Alliance'. Being able to act at home, at WYD 2019 our EcoClub took care of coordinating all recycling management for the pilgrims who stayed in the ITDB.

All this has stimulated my personal growth and awakened in others that something that motivates them to be good. Recycling I also learned that great skills are not needed, but that we can all assimilate this ideal and learn with humility to work as a team.

Through the Don Bosco Green Alliance I was selected as a speaker during last year's United Nations High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, together with three young women from Germany, Papua New Guinea and Ghana. We presented our efforts for the environment from our different perspectives and situations, and it was an opportunity to understand that there is more future than we believe and that we can do more than we think.

Through schools such as the Don Bosco Technical Institute and its EcoClub, and foundations such as Eco Creando, young people can learn to take care of the environment and improve their behaviour. Organizations such as Don Bosco Green Alliance give young people a voice to be heard and to get their message across.

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