Peer to Peer Exchange: Eastern Africa - Philippines 2019
By Harambee Link
AFE Province (Nairobi)
Cebu, the Philippines, 8 August 2019 -- These were some of the emotions expressed by the 12 delegates who have come from Tanzania (AFE province) for ‘Peer 2 Peer Exchange’ programme in the Philippines (FIS Province). Thanks to VIA Don Bosco, an NGO from Don Bosco Belgium who have supported this project and made this possible for us to travel. There are four representatives from our PDO (Planning and development office) in Dar Es Salaam and two each from our TVETs in Tanzania.
The exchange programme is aimed at sharing ideas of the work practices (effectivity and efficiency) of DB Eastern Africa and DB Philippines. We also hope to develop capacities through sharing of information and paying visits to various TVET centers in the Philippines. After some welcome pleasantries on the first day and a solemn welcome supper with the Provincial, Economer cum PDO director and some of the Salesian representatives from the six communities in Cebu, the programme swung into action on Tuesday. Thanks to Dr. Leah, the PDO assistant director and her team of six Don Bosco Missions personnel, we listened attentively to the presentations about Don Bosco Missions Philippines South Province. What impressed most of us is to see the clarity in their work in the office. The lay collaborators seem to know their boundaries very well. They were very clear in their conviction and stated clearly that their PDO office is mission directed and not project centered. I was personally challenged to see that the Salesians have really formed these lay collaborators in Salesianity. In fact I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the staff have gone through sdb constitutions, Salesian Youth Ministry frame of reference manual and even Ratio of the Salesian formation. Wow… there is a deep sense of Salesian belonging in the pdo staff.
We also had a visit to Pasil TVET center which is located at the very heart of the most backward areas of the city where the drug trafficking and other related problems are prevalent. The area is very congested… the students reached out are from a very poor economic background. In fact the community looks for various possibilities for scholarship funds. In the evening hours, after the class activities, the whole compound becomes alive with the young people of the neighbourhood. They play upto 07.40pm, pray the rosary and go back home. But formation programme continues for those in various sodalities until 09.40pm. One could smell Salesian optimism and joy on the faces of these young people coming from challenging social realities.
On Wednesday, we went to Balamban technical training institute where the students specialize in various types of welding. These young students are obsorbed into the job market (shipyard) immediately. In fact practically all the students get employed after ten months of their training in the institute. What inspired all of us is the charismatic work of Fr. Brian. One gets mesmerized at his creative interventions: His networking abilities … initiatives that make the young person be skilled in two or three fields … his accommodative spirit that leaves no stone unturned in seeking jobs for his students … his personal interest in qualifying himself in many trades (he has national certificates in almost ten technical fields, he has instructor course certificates in four trades and he has the assessor certificate in two fields). These qualifications make him have an edge over others in the institute. He has managed all these in his own time as he continued being the technical school director.
On Thursday we shall be having a session with the Provincial and the councils of both FIS and FIN provinces. Then we proceed to Manila and Davao until August 13th.