Germany – Don Bosco Forum 2018

05 February 2018

(ANS – Bonn) – “The Don Bosco Forum as a family celebration of a special kind unites happiness and celebration on the one hand; on the other, the serious and emotional discussion of the problems of children and young people worldwide,” managing director of Don Bosco Mondo, Martin Wilde, thus sums up the intention of the annual meeting of committed people in the spirit of Don Bosco. Organized by Don Bosco Mission and Don Bosco Mondo, the Don Bosco Forum takes place every year at the end of January in Bonn.

Halfway around the world with 46 flat tires – a (dream) journey for Don Bosco and for themselves

Jakob Steinkuhl and Ernest Roig Campi realized their dream: they cycled halfway around the world. Their message to young people is: “If you have a dream, believe in it and turn it into reality.” At the Don Bosco Forum 2018, the two young men reported in depth on their adventurous journey in themselves and to Vietnam in front of 400 guests.

The preparations took two years: finding sponsors, bringing together equipment, choosing routes. To gather enough money, both worked at second jobs besides their own vocational training. “It was exhausting and hard but the journey with all the intense experiences and the great hospitality on the entire route was more than compensation,” said Jakob summing up the 13-month long journey. On their way, they visited Don Bosco establishments, transferred a total of 3,5000 euros in donations, and supported the local teams. Besides 46 flat tires, dangerous encounters with bears, poor road conditions, unusual weather conditions and visa problems were all part of the journey.

From being a child soldier to being a student

20-year-old Claudia (not her real name) dreamt a completely different dream, the dream of a “normal life”. At 16, the student from a poor background joined a guerilla group in Columbia, was part of the civil war. After 15 months, she was arrested by the army and brought into the care of a youth welfare office. That’s how she found the way to Don Bosco in Medellín, where she could catch up on her missing school education. Today, she is studying health management. “The time in the guerilla will always stay a part of me. But thanks to the help of Don Bosco, I could overcome the things I experienced and realize my dream of studies,” said the young women with a beaming smile. Until this day, 126 girls and boys, who where active in armed groups during the civil war, are under the care of the Salesians. In the Ciudad Don Bosco, they are supervised physiologically, receive educational support and, if possible, reintegrated into their families.

“How can dreams turn into reality? Jakob and Ernest who stand up for more humanity, or Claudia, a former child soldier who lives her dream of studying, our numerous volunteers who provide a service of peace worldwide, they are all ambassadors and our hope. Because it’s our intention to empower young people in their rights and let them become advocates for peace and justice,” explains Dr. Nelson Penedo, managing director of Don Bosco Mission Bonn.

Giving children a voice so they can speak for themselves

Like Pater Joy Nedumparambil, SDB, from Bangalore. In India, child labor, child abuse, forced marriage and discrimination are still part of the sad daily lives of people. Girls are especially highly disadvantaged. Pater Joy is one of those who opposes this phenomena and gives children a voice. With his child rights programme, CREAM, he reaches children and adults in equal measure. To date, 75,000 children in 450 schools were informed about their rights (and how they can stand up for their rights) and 450 children's rights clubs were founded. In addition, more than 900 teachers of State schools were training to respect and establish child rights in their schools.


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.

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