As guest of honour, Jugend Eine Welt welcomed Br. John Ngigi Njuguna SDB from DBTECH AFRICA, Kenya, which coordinates more than 100 Salesian TVET centers spread over 35 countries in Africa. Fr. Ngigi pointed out that Senior volunteers fill an important gap as many educational institutions cannot afford to hire expert know-how from abroad. He said: “We need these people! It is really important that they share their expertise with us and train our teachers. On the other hand, they benefit themselves from the social connection with the reality in Africa. Instead of always thinking about their past, they start thinking about their future and how they can contribute with the skills they have.”
Fr. Rafael Bejarano Rivera SDB, Director of a Don Bosco Training Center in Armenia, Colombia, confirmed that there is a win-win situation on both sides: The contribution of the “Senior Experts” is much needed in many areas, for example for Train the Trainer workshops in Industrial Automation or Electricity. The volunteers find a new meaning in life and experience much joy. “I would like to contribute to the future strengthening of this culture of solidarity, he affirmed.
Sister Maria Rohrer FMA, who coordinates a girls shelter in Tunisia, stated that Europe should give much more support to young African people who are desperately in need of education and vocational training. Senior Experts could play an important role in this context. She said: “So many young African people have nothing to do because they lack education. It is crucial to support them where they are and give them perspectives in their home countries, so that they do not drown in the Mediterranean Sea on the way to Europe where they would not have a good future anyway.”
Former “Senior Experts” confirmed that they felt very welcome in the Don Bosco institutions. Most of them would like to return there soon. Like Josef Loderbauer, an experienced electrical technician who supported a Salesian Technical Vocational Training Center in Kamuli, Uganda, in 2018, where he helped to install a training course in Solar Technology. He returned there already the day after the event. But there are more than 60 other “Senior experts” on a waiting list who could be deployed any time if the necessary funding is guaranteed.
For this reason, Reinhard Heiserer, Director of the Jugend Eine Welt, appealed to representatives from Austrian Ministries, political institutions, the Austrian Economic Chambers, individual companies and foundations to support the “Senior Experts Austria” program: “Jugend Eine Welt has more than 20 years of experience in arranging volunteer programs. Please invest in the future of young people!”
More information and photographs from the event you can find here: https://www.jugendeinewelt.at/erfahrung-hilft/