Author: Salesian Missions

Publication Date: August 08, 2023

Practical Education, Deeply Rooted

Hunger is a big problem in the Philippines. So big, in fact, that more people living there are food insecure than anywhere else in Southeast Asia. At the Don Bosco Technical Vocational Education and Training Center in Cebu, disadvantaged students are learning sustainable farming skills in the school’s brand-new vegetable garden.

These skills are increasingly vital in a country that’s highly prone to extreme weather and natural disasters. Over and over, these events destroy the crops that many of the poorest citizens depend upon for employment and nourishment. Salesian missionaries across the nation are working to address these issues through student-centered initiatives designed to foster resilience in the face of an unpredictable climate.

“Every action, no matter how modest, truly matters in this context,” says Father Timothy Ploch, interim director of Salesian Missions. “We humans tend to believe that the world’s biggest problems require large-scale solutions, and that can actually work against us—because the scale and coordination of such efforts can seem impossible. It’s easy to become paralyzed and do nothing. Yet as the adage goes ‘the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.’ And small successes build upon each other.”

In Cebu, students are calling their initiative the Laudato Si garden, named after Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical on the environment.

Tended by Father Tass and a team of trainees from the Don Bosco Center, the garden yields enough produce to feed the students. “The garden’s existence is deeply rooted in the Center’s sustainability plan, serving as a living example of environmentally friendly practices and fostering a profound appreciation for nature and ecological responsibility among the students,” says one of the Salesian missionaries at the school.

“In Laudato Si, Pope Francis underscores the importance of education and training that helps youth shape a sustainable lifestyle and foster environmental responsibility,” says Fr. Tim. “This garden fulfills both goals and more—and promises to model how others across the Philippines can create, tend and feed themselves from their own small gardens. I’m very proud of these students and the Salesian educators who inspire them.”

Learn more about our work in Philippines.

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