WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY: Salesian Missions aims to protect the environment
Salesian Missions highlights initiatives that focus on caring for and protecting the environment.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (June 5, 2021) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and the international community in celebrating World Environment Day held annually on June 5. This year Pakistan will host World Environment Day in honor of Tahir Qureshi, who is known as the mangrove hero. He dedicated his life to the conservation and restoration of mangroves, planting millions of mangroves in his life. Sadly, he died in December 2020.
This year, World Environment Day marks the official launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a 10-year drive to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide. The initiative will “draw together political support, scientific research and financial muscle to scale up restoration and revive millions of hectares of land and marine ecosystems.”
The United Nations Environment Program (UN Environment) notes that 1 million plant and animal species risk extinction, largely due to human activities. It is calling for #GenerationRestoration to revive and protect ecosystems.
Salesian missionaries have an ongoing focus on the environment in their organizations around the globe. The Don Bosco Green Alliance, an international collective of youth from Salesian institutions and organizations that contribute to global environmental action, thought and policy, was launched in April 2018 in India. In the span of just two years, the Alliance gained 273 registered members from 56 countries. Membership is open to all Salesian institutions and organizations worldwide.
“The Don Bosco Green Alliance is helping Salesian organizations in more than 130 countries have a focus on the environment,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “Don Bosco Green Alliance members work to create an environment that is safe and caring for all life on the planet while building up a new generation of environmentally committed citizens and leaders.”
The Alliance’s priorities are combating pollution, reducing global warming and eliminating disposable plastics. In each of these areas, it aims to partner with ongoing global campaigns promoted by UN Environment or other international organizations.
Members of the Alliance have also undertaken such initiatives as environmental education to increase green areas and planting trees, the reduction of the use of non-degradable materials, promotion of organic agriculture and home gardens, preservation and conservation of water, and increasing the use of renewable energy sources.
In honor of World Environment Day, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight Salesian green and restoration efforts in countries around the globe.
Salesian missionaries inaugurated a new 45-kilowatt solar on-grid power plant and rainwater collectors at SPCI Don Bosco House, New Delhi, India. The project is supported by Jugend Eine Welt of Austria and in partnership with the Don Bosco Network – Bosconet. This installation is a vital step toward the goal of greening all Salesian campuses worldwide by 2032.
Don Bosco Network’s vision is in alignment with the environmental actions outlined by the Sustainable Development Goals and in response to Pope Francis’ call to care for the Earth. In December 2019, the Salesian Energy Forever Conference reflected on a response to the environmental crisis and drove actions that Salesians worldwide could take to make an important difference.
Don Bosco Network is actively promoting many green initiatives, including greening campuses with clean renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, promoting afforestation and green cover, greening training, promoting jobs in green sectors, e-learning, efficient natural resource management through rainwater harvesting, and waste management.
The Salesian oratory in Bova Marina, Italy, has joined the “Plant Your Tree” initiative, which was launched in the fall of 2019 by the Mondoverde Club, an environmental association. As part of the summer 2020 activities, close to 60 youth from the Salesian oratory planted saplings. Four teams of youth were created and each was responsible for planting one sapling.
This activity is one of many that Salesian organizations around the globe have participated in recently in a push for broader environmental awareness and engagement. In June 2020, Don Bosco Green Alliance launched the “Rethink, Reconnect, Renew” campaign. This campaign invites all of the Alliance members to rethink their priorities, their choices and their lifestyles, especially during the pandemic. Rethinking and reconnecting should inspire people to renew their way of living and ensure a healthier and happier future.
Salesian missionaries have been working in Lahore and Quetta, Pakistan, for the last 21 years. In Lahore, Salesians have a technical institute, elementary school, boarding school for children, workshops for girls and a youth center open on Saturdays. In Quetta, there is a school and two boarding schools, one for boys and one for girls.
Salesian staff and students in Lahore and Quetta are responding to the call by Pope Francis to provide care for the environment. They recently planted 100 trees on the campus grounds. In his 2020 Laudato Si’, Pope Francis underlined the importance of education and training that will help youth shape a lifestyle and foster environmental responsibility. Further, Salesian Rector
Major Father Ángel Fernández Artime noted the importance of concrete initiatives in the care of the environment. The first objective is encouraging the environmental commitment of youth.
Don Bosco Pasil, in Cebu City, Philippines, launched the Mamma Margaret’s Garden last year. Pasil is one of the villages in Cebu City that is highly populated and the houses are densely packed. Availability of land for planting is very limited, so the project used recycled plastic bottles to plant fruits and vegetables.
Brother Julius Ysulan and Brother Raffy Besonia run the garden and provide weekly educational sessions on environmental issues. After the harvest, families had fruits and vegetables without having to use their limited money to buy them at the store.
This garden is one of many initiatives launched during the pandemic. Several Salesian organizations in the Philippines started farming and gardening projects to help provide food relief to families in need. An 8,000-square-meter soccer field at St. John Bosco Parish, located in Tondo, Manila, had its first harvest festival where anyone could pay and harvest vegetables. The initiative launched in October 2020 and was spearheaded by the Department of Agrarian Reform, along with the Department of Agriculture, St. John Bosco Parish and the Manila local government. The project resulted in the first urban farm in Manila.
The project was launched by six agrarian reform beneficiaries from Cavite, who are known as farmer-scientists. They volunteered to teach the residents of Tondo skills and techniques in urban vegetable farming. After the initial training, Tondo residents planted squash, upo, kangkong, spinach, mustard, and pechay in the vegetable garden. The urban farm is benefiting people living in 17 barangays (neighborhoods) around the St. John Bosco Parish.
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