Fiji is a nation with many challenges. It has a youthful population with 44% under the age of 25. A significant proportion of the young adults, however, are unemployed and many are homeless. The Salesians have been in Fiji since 1999. For these Salesians the “outreach” to date has been focused on local primary schools, an orphanage and nearby villages.
Since January 2017 the Salesians have had responsibility for the newly established parish of Nasinu, Suva. Part of the overall development plan is to build a large multi-purpose Community and Youth Centre. This structure will be the first of its type in Fiji.
The Centre will be used for community meetings, youth gatherings, liturgy, sport, formal and informal education activities which include music, dance, choir, craft, table tennis and other indoor games. Facilities for outdoor sports such as volley ball, rugby and soccer are also on the agenda.
The two Don Bosco schools in Samoa: the Technical Centre at Alafua and the High School/Vocational Centre at Salelologa, cater for students whose parents, in the main, struggle financially. The costs involved in technical education and running the two schools requires financial assistance from outside sources.
Don Bosco Technical Centre Alafua was established in 1988. Current enrolments are 245 young men from Samoa and Tokelau.
The students have the opportunity to choose either general or specialised trade training. The technical training is complemented by courses in Samoan, English, Mathematics, Technical Drawing, Computer Studies and Religion. In addition, the Centre promotes personal, moral and spiritual growth, skills leadership development and teamwork through cultural and sporting activities.
Maintaining and improving the facilities such as up-grading workshop tools, a library and computer laboratory with internet access is a major objective.
The students at Don Bosco learn skills that are in demand in Samoa. Upon graduation, many secure work promptly, which is a significant achievement in a country with high unemployment.
Don Bosco Co-educational High School and Vocational School, Salelologa, in its eighth year, has more than 300 students. Many come from remote villages on the school bus.
Salesians have an integrated curriculum with academic and technical subjects designed to provide students with employment and human relations skills as well as self-reliance. Currently they are looking at how they can better incorporate outdoor education, including games and sport into the overall program.
A number of female students from poor families will also be selected for sponsorship to enable them to complete the last two years of their course.
Don Bosco Salelologa continues to be an important centre of education, meetings, conferences, youth gatherings and sport on the island of Savai’i.
“St John Bosco, our founder, said: ‘Without you I can do nothing’ and his words still ring true today. Together we can break the cycle of poverty and ignorance that destroys so many young lives” has said Bro Michael Lynch, Director of Salesian Missions Australia.
For further information, please visit: www.salesianmissionsaustralia.org.au