Artwork header image © Markus Engelberger
Since 2018 „Jugend Eine Welt-Don Bosco Aktion Austria“ sends out „Senior Expert“ volunteers to Don Bosco projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America. These experts are cordially welcome in Salesian institutions where they contribute in many different ways, for example as agricultural, technical or medical experts, teachers or psychotherapists. On March 21, the new program „Senior Experts Austria“ was presented during an event which took place in the Viennese Palais Coburg and was funded by POK Pühringer Privatstiftung.
As guest of honour, Jugend Eine Welt welcomed Br. John Ngigi Njuguna SDB from DBTECH AFRICA/Kenya which coordinates more than 100 Salesian TVET centers spread over 35 countries in Africa. Fr. Ngigi pointed out that Senior volunteers fill an important gap as many educational institutions cannot afford to hire expert know-how from abroad. He said: „We need these people! It is really important that they share their expertise with us and train our teachers. On the other hand, they benefit themselves from the social connection with the reality in Africa. Instead of always thinking about their past, they start thinking about their future and how they can contribute with the skills they have.“
Fr. Rafael Bejarano Rivera SDB, Director of a Don Bosco Training Center in Armenia/Colombia confirmed that their is a win- win situation on both sides: The contribution of the „Senior Experts“ is much needed in many areas, for example for Train the Trainer workshops in Industrial Automation or Electricity. The volunteers find a new meaning in life and experience much joy. „I would like to contribute to the future strengthening of this culture of solidarity“, he affirmed.
Sister Maria Rohrer FMA who coordinates a girls shelter in Tunesia stated that Europe should give much more support to young African people who are desperately in need of education and vocational training. Senior Experts could play an important role in this context. She said: „So many young African people have nothing to do because they lack education. Is is crucial to support them where they are and give them perspectives in their home countries, so that they do not drown in the Mediterranean Sea on the way to Europe where they would not have a good future anyway.“