WORLD HUMANITARIAN DAY: Salesian Missions highlights programs that focus on climate change and positively impact the environment
The Don Bosco Green Alliance is helping Salesian organizations in more than 130 countries have a focus on the environment.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Aug. 19, 2021) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and countries around the globe in recognizing World Humanitarian Day. Celebrated every year on Aug. 19, World Humanitarian Day honors the humanitarian efforts worldwide that support people in crisis.
The day was established by the United Nations to recognize those who face danger and adversity in order to help others. It was designated to coincide with the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq.
This year, World Humanitarian Day highlights the human cost of the climate crisis by pressuring world leaders to take meaningful climate action for the world’s most vulnerable people. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said, “The climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is a race we can win.”
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs noted, “The climate emergency is wreaking havoc across the world at a scale that the humanitarian community and people at the front lines cannot manage. Time is already running out for millions of the world’s most vulnerable people—those who have contributed least to the global climate emergency but are hit the hardest. Millions of people are already losing their homes, their livelihoods and their lives.”
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 Don Bosco Green 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.”
In honor and celebration of World Humanitarian Day 2021, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight programs that focus on improving environmental impact 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.
Salesian missionaries operate the St. Joseph’s Farm, in Sagamu, Nigeria. The farm is a center for training, research and production. With a population close to 256,000, including a mix of Christians, Muslims and traditionalists, Sagamu is known for its agricultural products such as cocoa and kola nuts. The region’s rich vegetation and large masses of unoccupied or unused land continue to attract people to develop an interest in agriculture. Yet, the region has high rates of unemployment and underemployment, as well as a low rate of formal education.
The St. Joseph’s Farm initiative is located on 25 hectares acquired by the Salesians. It is a center of excellence for crop production, animal farming, research and training, especially for youth and smallholder farmers. Each training session has 100 participants involved in farming activities and indirectly benefits more than 5,000 people.
Overall, the farm has several objectives. It provides training for youth and the poor, especially widows and girls, enabling them to generate an income and reduce food insecurity. The farm also improves methods of crop production and teaches climate resilient techniques and practices, which help to increase smallholder farmers’ productivity and revenue in a sustainable way.
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, as well as two boarding schools with 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.
A total of 511 students looking to make a career in renewable energy received training in solar installation, operation and maintenance thanks to grant funding Salesian Missions received from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. The training initiative took place from April 2019 to July 2020 at the Don Bosco training centers in Dodoma and Iringa, Tanzania.
This training initiative, along with another at Don Bosco Oysterbay in Dar es Salaam, funded through a partnership with Misereor, the German Catholic Bishops’ Organization for Development Cooperation, helped lead to the establishment of training laboratories and the remodeling of solar and electronic classrooms and workshops at the centers, as well as the installation of training equipment and furniture and the development of instructors. The projects contributed to increased access to quality technical training on renewable energy in Tanzania.
All 511 trainees also benefited from job placement and career guidance and were placed for a field internship to gain practical training for at least two months. Internship placement was useful as many solar energy projects are located in the interior of the country, and students were able to gain experience in understanding the practical application of their classroom studies. A total of 308 graduates are now qualified solar technicians with the capacity to install, operate and maintain solar-powered grids.
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