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By Fr Arun Michael Charles,
Missionary animation delegate for Cambodia

Don Bosco Technical School, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 31 May 2020 -- Don Bosco Phnom Penh community has received many volunteers from a variety of countries and continents over the past 29 years, as the first Salesian work in Cambodia. They have been both young and retired people, whole families with children or gap-year college students, fervent Catholics or from other Christian denominations. The community strives to accompany them during their shorter or long stay, sharing the same table and working as partners in the same Don Bosco mission.

How was your experience of hosting so many volunteers in your community - DB Phnom Penh?

It was very beneficial to our school community; most of all the volunteers added a spark of youthfulness and life in the SDB community:

  • It provided the students an opportunity to relate, exchange ideas, play and work with young people from a foreign country. It helped them to realize that they we’re not so different and most of them shared similar ambitions in life. 
  • It gave them an opportunity to experience how young people from another country behave among themselves and with others (with mutual respect and friendship). 
  • The volunteers actively participated in our Life skills seminars for all our students (seven groups approx. in a year). They added value and their creativity into our modules.

What is your joy at receiving missionary volunteers?

My joy while receiving missionary volunteers is that of proclaiming the gospel. It is a unique opportunity to encounter these individuals at close quarters and help them to know Christ through Don Bosco. Yes, they are very helpful in our mission with specific responsibilities as teachers or being in charge of the library, music, sports and other interest groups. Most importantly they are in our community to experience our Salesian family spirit.

What was one of the main challenges of hosting volunteers?

Hosting a missionary volunteer in our community is like having an aspirant to closely guide in all aspects. They have to be accepted for who they are for them to grow. Thus, they need continual attention and guidance from at least one delegated person of the community. They have many questions and need someone to confide.

Most volunteers come with the heart for serving the poor young people. However, they may not know our Salesian pedagogy and so this needs to be taught to them and followed up by guidance.

Can you share one thing you learned from hosting volunteers?

Each volunteer comes with their own life experiences and expectations for their missionary experience as a volunteer. The community needs to respect their expectations and life experiences and help the volunteers to understand the mission entrusted to the community.

What impact makes the presence of volunteers in your community life?

The presence of volunteers enriches the community with new perspectives. Their commitment stimulates the community towards the common mission of the community.

How does the presence of volunteers enable you to live the dream of Don Bosco?

Our Salesian community includes our volunteers. They join us for all our daily community activities (prayers, meditation, mass, meals). Here, we live the dream of Don Bosco by living and working together (Salesians along with our lay collaborators). Since the age of the volunteers vary the combination of us all is like a family (international family from many countries). We come from different places from different backgrounds, but what brings us together is our passion and love for the mission of Don Bosco.





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