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By Lauren Hichaaba

PDMA for the AUL Province and Director of the Cagliero Project

Australia-Pacific, 31 March 2020 -- In the midst of great distress and difficulty it is natural to be propelled into deep reflection about our lives, who we are and if we are truly living in the way that we were destined for.

Over the past couple of weeks as the situation of the world changes day by day I been deeply contemplating gratitude. In fact – it is the thing that I overwhelms my heart and mind the most these days. Of course, it is often not until something is taken away that we really and truly understand its importance to our lives.

For the past fourteen years I have been running the Cagliero Project – the Salesian Missionary Volunteer Service for the Australia Pacific Province. Over that time, I have been privileged to work with incredible young people and young at heart who say ‘YES’ to the call to work alongside the Salesians of Don Bosco and Salesian Sisters for young people in need.

I have so much gratitude, along with so many others, for the Salesian Mission Volunteer Service that takes place in the various parts of the world.

Gratitude for each and every volunteer who takes the risk and enters into the unknown.

Gratitude for the Salesians who open their communities and share their life with volunteers.

Gratitude that the Salesian congregation prioritises this experience for young people and is always forward thinking about how to share Don Bosco’s mission with the laity.

Gratitude for all the mistakes and challenges that each and every volunteer has faced and for the perseverance and faith that got them through the challenges.

Gratitude for the diversity in our Salesian world that gives opportunity to experience different cultures and explore new ways of doing things, different ways of being human and in this diversity expands our capacity to love.

Gratitude for the amazing young people throughout the world who open their hearts to our volunteers and teach them and give them far more than we could ever give them.

This gratitude list could go on.

Of course, it has been devastating that over the past few weeks as so many Salesian volunteers have prematurely concluded their time of service. It is difficult enough when a volunteer concludes their placement however to leave before ‘completing’ the period of service is so much harder.

Personally, never again will I take for granted a phone call with a volunteer, sending them off at the airport, working through tricky situations, visiting them overseas and being inspired every single day I get to come to work.

For now, in the midst of so much difficulty, I am grateful, and I invite you to be too. Together, let us focus on the total gratitude for all the Salesian volunteers we have had in the past and all we will have in the future, Salesian communities who have welcomed them and will welcome them and the beautiful young for whom we live and work.



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