WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY: Salesian Missions highlights environmental initiatives at Salesian schools and parishes
Salesian missionaries around the globe launch initiatives to help protect the environment.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (June 5, 2023) 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, World Environment Day has the theme of #BeatPlasticPollution.
As noted on the awareness day website, “The world is being inundated by plastic. More than 400 million tons of plastic is produced every year, half of which is designed to be used only once. Of that, less than 10% is recycled. An estimated 19-23 million tons end up in lakes, rivers and seas. Today, plastic clogs our landfills, leaches into the ocean and is combusted into toxic smoke, making it one of the gravest threats to the planet.”
“Salesian missionaries around the globe have launched initiatives to help protect the environment,” said Father Timothy Ploch, interim director of Salesian Missions. “This work was driven by Pope Francis’ 2020 Laudato Si’, which underlined the importance of education and training that will help youth foster environmental responsibility. From clean-up days to tree planting to using solar power for buildings, Salesians and the youth they serve are working to ensure the planet is a better, cleaner place.”
Even prior to the Pope’s call for action, Salesian missionaries had launched the Don Bosco Green Alliance, an international collective of youth from Salesian institutions and organizations. Membership is open to all Salesian institutions and organizations worldwide. It began April 2018.
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 U.N. Environment or other international organizations.
In honor of World Environment Day, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight Salesian environmental initiatives in countries around the globe.
Don Bosco Boys Home, located in Sunyani, Ghana, provides social support and education to young boys in the care of Salesian missionaries. Recently, the International Voluntary Service (VIS) contributed funding for materials, textbooks and uniforms for youth to attend school with the supplies they need.
VIS also launched an environmental education and organic agriculture training program. As part of this initiative, VIS brought 52 young boys to the Boabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary and the Kristo Buase Monastery. The guides facilitated an exploration of the rainforest, century-old trees and huge rock formations.
In addition, agronomists conducted training in organic agriculture and helped youth start an organic garden. The boys are cultivating maize, tomatoes, zucchini, salad greens and peppers. The garden complements the other the farm facilities, improving the self-sufficiency of the center with organic vegetables. Youth are also able to have hands-on practice with sustainable agriculture techniques.
Jadav “Molai” Payeng, an environmental activist and forestry worker known as the Forest Man of India, joined 3,000 Salesian scouts and guides on New Year’s Day. They planted 3,500 saplings on the Assam Don Bosco University Tapesia campus, located in Guwahati, Assam, India. Payeng has planted and tended the Molai forest located near Kokilamukh of Jorhat, which encompasses an area of about 1,360 acres.
The tree planting event was part of the 14th National Boscoree, a quadrennial gathering of scouts and guides from Salesian institutions all over India. The event brings together troops to “experience adventure, service and to celebrate unity in diversity in an atmosphere of learning, loving and with the spirit of comradeship with one goal in mind — to be the agent of a better India.”
The six-day program focused on the theme “Save Our Planet Home.” It provided an opportunity for youth to learn about creating a green and clean environment, as well as how to spread environmental messages.
Sacred Heart of Jesus Post-Novitiate Salesian community in Sunter, North Jakarta, Indonesia, has been taking steps to increase environmentally friendly practices. Salesians are collecting used beverage bottles to recycle, which keeps them from going into the ocean. In addition, the money earned from recycling turns into social funds for the community.
To get started, Salesians developed an agreement with Angga Rizyan, coordinator for Plastic Bank Indonesia, a private organization that collects and recycles plastics. Plastic waste, especially plastic bottles, is difficult to decompose. The bottles need to be collected and processed properly.
Now, Salesians and people in the nearby community regularly collect plastic bottles. After growth in the number of plastic bottles collected, a storage facility was built. Two Salesians were assigned to work with the bottles in the storage facility. They remove the caps from the bottles, separate the plastic wrapping and flatten the bottles so that they fit in sacks. If there are a lot of bottles, the whole community works together.
Plastic bottles have been delivered to the Plastic Bank’s team twice. The first collection garnered 216 kilograms (about 476 pounds) of plastic bottles. The second included 385 kilograms (about 849 pounds) of both plastic bottles and water cans.
Father Antonio “Beng-Beng” Molavin, rector of the Salesian St. Ildefonso Parish in Makati, Philippines, launched initiatives in 2021 to help the parish population focus on removing plastics from the environment by working with Plastic Bank.
Parish members are involved in projects to clean up their local community and to recycle plastics found, as well as items used in their homes. Youth in the Salesian oratory are also reusing plastic items rather than throwing them into the trash.
St. Ildefonso Parish was chosen by the Ecological Ministry of the Archdiocese of Manila to be the first parish in the Philippines to collaborate with Plastic Bank. Fr. Molavin explained, “If we take the problem of plastic pollution seriously and try to offer an effective solution, we would have solved a great ecological problem.”
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