Ecuador – "I dream of being a happy Salesian among people"

17 December 2020

(ANS - Yaupi) - After taking part in the 150th Salesian Missionary Expedition in 2019, the young 25-year-old Salesian trainee Alexandre Akilimali came to Ecuador to carry out his ministry in the indigenous community of Yaupi. That day he fulfilled a dream: to give his life for others, wherever God wants.

Alexandre was born into a Catholic family in Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. At the age of 13, he entered the "ITIG Don Bosco" in his city where he learned about the Salesians and the figure of Don Bosco for the first time. As a student, he met the then Director, Fr Fermin Kikoli, a decisive figure for his vocation to consecrated life. “He was a person who welcomed the students with great affection, a Don Bosco among the young,” recalls Alexandre. While for the central missionary vocation it was Bro. Honorato Alonso who, although elderly, did not stay in the workshops, but went out into the courtyard to play with the children and young people.

Having begun the journey of initial formation in Salesian life, at the end of the post-novitiate he wrote a letter to the Rector Major to express his availability for the missions ad gentes (outside his culture) and ad vitam (for life).

Fr Ángel Fernandez Artime, Rector Major, accepted his request and so Alexandre went to Turin-Valdocco to participate in the Salesian Missionary Expedition No. 150. Of the journey of preparation, a sentence remained imprinted in his heart: “As missionaries, you will learn about new cultures. But don't think about going there to give something new; on the contrary, first go and learn from others and then share what you have.”

Without knowing much Spanish, he arrived in Ecuador and, after a few months of formation in Quito, he was transferred to the community of Yaupi. “I couldn't imagine that there was such a place in Ecuador!” he says. Added to his amazement was joy when the local children, of Shuar ethnicity, welcomed him with traditional dances and songs.

“I'm still getting into the culture, because I'm a stranger to young people. But many come to me out of curiosity and I take the opportunity to get to know them better, play in the yard and share time together. These first months have taught me the value of patience,” says the missionary, who teaches Physics and Philosophy at the community student residence.

Due to the pandemic, the daily dynamics have changed. He now records the contents to be broadcast on the radio, but on Saturdays, he walks in the jungle for an hour and a half and invites children and young people to participate in catechesis. Currently he animates a group of 15 children who are preparing for First Communion, and another 6 for Confirmation.

Alexandre asked God to illuminate his steps and allow him to discover what He wants from him, to then serve the people of Ecuador as a priest. His dream is to be a happy Salesian among the people he will meet on this missionary journey.


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.

This site also uses third-party cookies to improve user experience and for statistical purposes. By scrolling through this page or by clicking on any of its elements, you consent to the use of cookies. To learn more or to opt out, click "Further Information".