29 August 2017
The Young and Volunteering
One Year of Life to “Help, Learn, Discern”
Young Ecuadorians are generously dedicating one year of their lives to help society’s most vulnerable members. This is an experience involving groups of young people from this Latin American country that has been repeated year after year in the Project Youth Missionary Voluntary Service of the Salesians in Kumbaya, Ecuador. Since 1972, more than two thousand young people have participated in this work of social assistance. After a short training course, they are sent to different houses and works of the Salesians in Ecuador, Peru, and Paraguay.
In recent days, fifty-six young people took part in the training session at Kumbaya. There, and the sense of volunteering and the three principal objectives—helping, learning, and discerning—were explored. These are techniques for integration and knowledge that they need to learn to put them use them in the communities. Alongside the educational objectives of the instruction and the training, the experience is also intended to lead the young people to reflect on their personal project in life and to try to understand what God's wants them to do with their lives.
The training for volunteer work and practical action in the mission fields is done by Salesians with the help of adult lay people. In the United States, in the past few days, the missionary mandate was given to thirteen lay people who, after three weeks of training, accompaniment, and a spiritual retreat, were sent to missions in Bolivia, Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Vietnam, Zambia, and the United States.