DON BOSCO MODERN VOCATIONAL TRAINING INSTITUTE TARGETS DEVELOPMENT
Situated in the arid zone and physically on the central point of the Sudan is El Obeid. Don Bosco Technical School is situated on the outskirts of the town. Once inside its premises, one will be amazed at the quality of the infrastructure, ultra modern equipments and the standard of the technical education that is being imparted here. The Minister of Local Rule and Civil Service in North Kordofan, Ibrahim Adam Ibrahim, on his last visit to Don Bosco, described it as the first of its kind in Sudan, the second all over Africa after the one in Cairo, Egypt.
Mohammed Saleem Kim, the Commissioner in the North Kordofan Government pointed to the need for such kind of technical education for development in the Sudan to compete in the international labour market, adding to the necessity of human training and qualification. He considered the establishment of this institute as one of the peace fruits of the CPA which was signed in 2005.
Marco Torta, IVECO Area Manager for Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti, and the representative of Italian embassy of Sudan, promised support in financing the upkeep of Don Bosco El-Obeid. He also said that the Don Bosco institute in El Obeid is one of 152 of Don Bosco institutes spread all over the world.
Fr. Labila Placido, the Director, pointed out that Don Bosco Institutes are found in 132 countries world-wide and is the biggest Technical Training organization in the world. “We hope that the technical development will not only be for the benefits of North Kordofan State, but also will spread out its benefits to the whole Sudan and Africa at large.” He said.
The Institute adopts two systems of study, one for three years diploma, and the other for one year intensive course where students become trained and qualified as well as those of engineering faculties at the different universities. Over 1000 youth from different faiths are trained under the care of qualified instructors. The Fruits of Preventive System of education, a tradition handed down from Don Bosco, the founder of the Society, uses Reason, Religion and Rapport as an effective tool to inculcate discipline, value based life style and uprightness into the youth.
Fr. Vincent Donati :
It was something un-planned a decision taken on the spur of the needs of the “war-boys” incase of public calamities Don Bosco used to send immediately to the Civil Authorities his offer of help.
After the “Ancona” earthquake Don Bosco sent a telegram to the Government region (I accept 100 orphans). After the earthquake of North Africa he sent a message to the cardinal LAVIGERIE (send me the orphans of the earthquake)… and there are other examples like this.
Working with lay people In the case of “Darfur project” all the instructors, the assistants, the Headmaster and the administrator are lay-people (the instructors assistants and the headmaster are Muslims) you may ask if this is still a Salesian project.
The “soul” of a Salesian Work There must be (at least) one Salesian with the “passion for the youth” (to use the words of our Rector Major). A Salesian who is happy to spend his life and to stay always with the boys; a Salesian with a contagious enthusiasm, who can motivate the teaching staff, and who gives space enough to the initiatives of the others, positive, optimistic, joyful, can be the ‘animating nucleus’.
There may be a lot of things not well done, a lot still to improve, there may be a lot of difficulties, mishaps, mistakes but this does not prevent the boys-community to become gradually a Salesian family, joyful, serene, affectionate, if there is a “father”. The experience of the “Darfur Project”, is that every year we accept all amorphous mass of 400 rough boys victim of famine, violence, with moral wounds to be healed and with bad habits to be get rid of. We do not need to have Don Bosco working miracles. A simple Salesian – with good-will and many inadequacies can with the help of Mary and that of the Salesian lay staff, can gradually transform them into a family of good boys (not of angels).
The help of the past pupils Both in Kakuma camp and now in El-Obeid, all the instructors are past pupils. A great help!
Working together with the Society How useful and important is working together with the society (local authorities of the Government, tribal chieftains, etc) is another lesson we have brought home little by little. At the beginning we were not aware of its importance, but when we went to Darfur to collect the second group of boys, we understood we were already “in the hands” of many people (helping hands, not hindering hands). Both for the counting of the boys and for keeping the contacts with boys’ families we need the chieftains and the authorities of local administration. They trust us and try to facilitate our work, till the point that they granted us in Nyala and in El-Fasher two large plots of land for future development. Once a year some local ministers of the government of North or South Darfur come to visit the Darfur boys in El Obeid and encourage them.
Is our Darfur project a “Church- Project”?
Surely not! It is not done in the name of the church, although it is very beneficial to the church, because among the majority of the Muslims there are even many relatively ‘Christian friendly’.
It is the secular nature of our project – loving and helping youth – that attracts the sympathy of people towards Don Bosco and towards the church that does not make discrimination along the line of religion. Time will come when this will bring its fruits.
Conclusion: the challenges by Darfur project The Rector Major has widened our Salesian Horizons and changed the perspective of our work. He encourages a great educational movement carried on by the Salesians. If so, we have to present ourselves to the society with the distinguishing feature of a healthy secularism not, of course, to the detriment of our spirituality or of our intimate union with the mission of the church, but to strengthen the union of good people as Don Bosco used to say, in view of the “Salvation of the Youth.” We feel the overweight of many superstructures, the noose of tightening organization, at the expense of a more relaxed and spiritually free religious life. We try to plan, to organize, to go at the pace of a hectic world and little is left to the charism of the Spirit.
Only if we follow the God’s planning we can simplify our life, and do without many superstructures. The “plans” of God are the needs of the poor, and are very easy to find and recognize. They challenge us. We need to care for the “expansion” of our “Congregation”. We need to care less for the approval of the society at large.
Since the African countries are trying to “modernize”, to “keep pace with the industrial world” technical education should be our first concern? If we want to improve the life of our poor boys, and make a slow but sure contribution to the development of underdeveloped areas. Besides, the Salesian regional for Africa assures us that the majority of requests are for Technical centres. Even a Muslim country like Sudan makes pressing requests to Don Bosco for technical centres and donates land to build them. (But where is a programme of Technical formation for the Brothers?)
The Darfur project is not a project to go on forever, to be developed, improved (the educational standards of course, should be improved), to become a well-groomed Salesian centre. The Darfur project is a temporary project, to “save”, to “rescue” as many youth as possible, only for the good of the “war-boy”, not for the pride of the Salesians, but for the joy of Don Bosco. The message is that we should not entrench ourselves in the land where we work. We are the “light cavalry” of the Lord ready to go wherever there is a need. Besides we work in a changing society, and should not be afraid to change. Everybody knows that Don Bosco started many works. Very few know that he closed down quite a number of Salesian houses that he had opened. (Give we the youth! And take the rest)
As you see, this is not a conclusion. It is only a challenge to be faced and considered, at the light of Don Bosco’s example.