15,000 Young people involved in Eco Ubuntu Project

39 “Green Delegates” and Leaders of the “Eco Ubuntu” project of AFM Vice-Province of Blessed Michael Rua came together between January 15-18 in the  LUMKO retreat house in Johannesburg for an animation workshop. The 3-year project inspired by the Laudato Si’ Encyclical of Pope Francis and Deliberation of GC28, will involve most of the 18 Salesian network schools in eSwatini, Lesotho and South Africa.

 Workshop participants included a large variety of Eco Ubuntu project stakeholders: leadership in our schools, green delegates (mainly school teachers) and experts in the following 5 green pillars of the project: renewable energy (solar technology), water access, waste management, hydroponics and sustainable cultivation. Although the real tragets of the project are about 15,000 young people from Salesian schools, the impact aims at their “communities” – the broader society. Four project areas - Green skills training, green interventions, capacity building, and establishing project pillars.

 The animating presence of 4 Salesians from all 3 AFM countries, including their Superior, Fr Vaclav Klement and the AFM Provincial Economer, Fr Alberto Villalba, offered a good opportunity to build relationships between the delegates from 7 different locations, though most of them did not know each other before this event - Cape Town, Johannesburg, Delft, Manzini and Malkerns, Maputsoe and Maseru.

 This “getting-on-board” Workshop was guided by experts in the respective 5 pillars of the project (University lectures, civil activists, experts in solar technology, hydroponics, waste management and sustainable agriculture) and with best practice sharing and creative input from a variety of green delegates, questions and and open forum.

 What are the expected results of this large project that is 75% funded from Germany (BMZ)? The Salesians aim through Salesian educational institution youth training (Eco camps, Eco debates, Eco festivals) to reach out to communities by forming a “green mindset” and through easy-to-understand “green interventions” with solar workshops, borehole installations, developing hydroponics sites, management of local units and promoting sustainable gardens).

 This project can also help the Salesian Family to be more involved in the Laudato Si’ and Don Bosco Green Alliance movements, fostering the Salesian school network within the 3 countries of the AFM Vice-Province and holistic formation of educators and youth.

 At the end of the Workshop, each participant received not only a small souvenir but also a newly printed copy of the Memoirs of the Oratory written by Don Bosco, to be more inspired by his Dream about his Mission.