Young people linked to Salesian works, such as teachers, youth leaders, Salesian Cooperators or past pupils, but also professionals from different sectors and pensioners make up the profiles of the people who will go to 12 Salesian works from eight different countries in coming weeks – in the Americas and Africa, to serve young people in the spirit of Don Bosco.
It was an intense weekend, complemented by further insight into the missionary spirit and the spirit of service, reminders of the logistical aspects of their journeys, presentation of the destinations where they will carry out their Salesian missionary volunteer work, and times for prayer, evaluation and recreation. Doubts and uncertainties also gave way to emotion when they saw the unexpected farewell videos from friends and family and the welcoming videos from the Salesian places that will be accepting them. A self-catered dinner, involving menu items produced by each of the participants, left room for a fun evening in company.
Venezuela (Caracas and Maracaibo), Uganda (Palabek), Bolivia (Santa Cruz and Loma Alta), Colombia (Dos Quebradas and Medellin), Dominican Republic (Santo Domingo), Guatemala (Petén), Mexico (Tijuana and León) and Peru (Lima) are the destinations that will host the volunteers, who will always travel in pairs to carry out their short-term volunteering. A further 12 people will carry out their long-term volunteer service during the year.
The 38 volunteers come mostly from Madrid, but also from Burgos (2), León (2), Logroño (2) and one each from Ciudad Real, Salamanca, Guadalajara, Valencia, Malaga and Guipúzcoa, the latter thanks to the agreement of the Basque government with Misiones Salesianas.
The celebration of the sending of volunteers, who were given their Missionary Cross, was presided over by SSM Provincial, Fr Fernando García, on the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity. On several occasions during the Mass Fr García invited the volunteers “to be above all witnesses, wherever you go, because this is the important thing; and after being comes the doing.” In addition, he urged them to “listen carefully to the other to learn” in the different circumstances in which they will find themselves.
All people sent as part of the Salesian Missionary Volunteer (VMS) program this year will be involved in projects with young people in vulnerable situations. Their work in Salesian activities will be to accompany, listen and help in school, leisure and recreational activities carried out with them. The family photos with the T-shirt sporting the volunteers’ motto “Voluntarios por siempre” (Volunteers forever), and the farewell lunch gave the final touch to the Astudillo event – awaiting their return to base when the volunteers will be able to tell how much they experienced and will have to work to keep their missionary spirit alive, even at home.