Living by Don Bosco’s Example
Hardship is a constant fact of life in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)—where far too many people already struggle to get by on just $1 a day. Now, escalating conflict is only making things worse. Thankfully, a group of dedicated past Salesian pupils have delivered a small glimmer of hope to those seeking shelter from the violence.
Known as the Veteran Club of Don Bosco, this diverse group of men and women formed nine years ago to maintain their connections, nurture their Salesian spirituality, and serve people in need. As the club’s anniversary approached, members decided they wanted to do something meaningful for the thousands of frightened people at the Bulengo refugee camp in Goma, where hope has been in short supply.
“So far, people are surviving thanks to the help of international humanitarian organizations,” explains Father Michael Conway, director of Salesian Missions. “But the need is so vast that it’s hard to keep up. In addition to the Bulengo camp, there are as many as 25,000 people crammed into other nearby camps for the internally displaced. With so many crises happening simultaneously around the world right now, resources are stretched perilously thin.”
Of course, our missionaries are doing what they can. Having served in the DRC for more than 100 years, they are deeply attuned to their communities’ needs. As the recent unrest turned more brutal and deadly, our Salesian missionaries at Don Bosco Shasha, Don Bosco Ngangi Youth Center, and the Industrial Technical Institute in Goma opened their gates to countless people fleeing for their lives.
These missionaries also collaborate with aid partners in other camps, including Bulengo and Kanyaruchinya, to provide food and additional material support.
“Many people staying in the camps rely heavily on the Salesians for support,” Fr. Mike adds, “especially expectant mothers, the elderly, and those living with disabilities.”
Knowing this, the Veteran Club of Don Bosco took immediate action and assembled care packages called “the Basket of Don Bosco,” to benefit the poorest of the poor staying at Bulengo. Each member contributed their own money, food, clothing and other items they thought could be useful for children and families who literally have nothing.
“My fellow Salesians in Goma tell me that recipients were humbled and grateful for this gesture from the heart,” Fr. Mike says. “In the midst of some very dark days for these refugees, even the smallest gift can be a beacon of hope.”
Club members believe it will serve as an example—one that inspires other kind-hearted people in the DRC to do the same.
Learn more about our work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
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