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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2867

Don Bosco Salasians to go back to their roots to save youth and children

By Quintus Perera – Asian Tribune

Colombo, 18 June, ( In a communiqué sent by Don Bosco Salasians Sri Lanka indicated that Rev Fr Anthony Humer Pinto, Sri Lanka Country Director/Provincial Superior has attended the 26th General Chapter of Global Don Bosco Salasians in Rome and in his address to the 26th General Chapter has said that Sri Lanka which is universally known as the pearl or the tear drop in the Indian Ocean, today drenched in tears and could now be identified as a valley of tears, smeared with blood.

The General Chapter of the Don Bosco Salasian delegates numbering around 300 representing some 130 countries of 16,692 clergymen and Salasian Family of 402,500 spread around the world where Don Bosco Salasians have established their Congregation, met in various sessions for nearly two months. The customary General Chapter is held once in six year in DBS Headquarters in Rome for “Orientation” purposes of the DBS Order.Rev Fr Anthony Humer Pinto,Stri Lanka Don Bosco Salasians Country Director/Provincial Superior second from left squatted is with the other Don Bosco Salasian delegates from other countries posing for a picture during their 26th General Chapter held in RomeRev Fr Anthony Humer Pinto,Stri Lanka Don Bosco Salasians Country Director/Provincial Superior second from left squatted is with the other Don Bosco Salasian delegates from other countries posing for a picture during their 26th General Chapter held in Rome

The communiqué indicated that the Congress of the General Chapter realized the importance of the present situation in Sri Lanka and Rev Fr Pinto was given a chance to address this august Assembly representing tiny Sri Lanka.

It was mentioned that Fr Pinto elaborated the youth frustration, agitation and youth being neglected, in the so-called “Paradise Island” throughout more than 30 years which culminated into two huge insurgencies in the South of the country and for more than 20 years the insurrection now turned into an ethnic war in the Northern part of the country.

Fr Pinto has said that the cause for youth agitation could be attributed to unemployment and the disparity in education and thus youth cause has been ignored and sidelined. Great number of children from poor families attends the poorly run pubic schools, Fr Pinto has said. The horrendous situation thus he said has been that 55 percent of the youth are eliminated from higher education. He said that these multitudes of youth are duped with frustration with no hopes for future without jobs or miserly paid jobs.

According to the communiqué he has explained to the DBS delegates that many frustrated youth seek shelter in extreme political ideologies and invariably could be pushed towards insurgency. He said that since 1971 many youth in the South joined extremist movements and said that it was reported that since then nearly 100,000 youth have lost their lives. He said that since the ethnic war erupted in 1983, it has been estimated that around 60,000 lives have been lost and nearly a million has been internally displaced.

The communiqué indicates that he has pointed out that urgent solutions have to be sought to stave the present situation and remedial measures must have to be put into action immediately, to save the youth from the grips of frustration, and to curtail the damage to the youth cause that is on the verge of collapse here in Sri Lanka.

With the mounting inspiration, strength and spirit of St Don Bosco, Fr Pinto has said that the DB Salasians in Sri Lanka are reaching out to the youth, the school dropouts and those eliminated from higher education. Meticulously planned and manned youth vocational training centres run by DB Salasians provide youth job training, ensuring them opportunities for gainful employment.

The communiqué indicated that Fr Pinto has told their Rome World Congress in session that in Sri Lanka they run 11 vocational training centres and six of them are with boarding facilities for the poorest of the poor. In them the first priority is for orphans and there is special preference for those failed to gain higher education. Three of the centres are operated in the predominantly Buddhist areas such as in Nochciyagama, Kandy and Ahungalla and Sri Lankan Don Bosco Salasians are maintaining very cordial relations with Buddhist monks in those areas who have great influence.

He has explained the stark realities of child abuse and child sexual exploitation that escalated. Though since 1980s with the eruption of violence the well-mannered western tourists have been in the decline, there is information he has said that pedophiles in search of child sex haunts Sri Lanka through a well organized network. An estimated 33,000 children are susceptible to be victims of these pedophiles, in addition to the local child abuse impact.

He has said the beach Drop-in centres keep a vigil at high risk children and are sheltered before they are victimized. The name of “Don Bosco has now become synonymous with protecting children.

The communiqué indicated that Fr Pinto has indicated to the General Chapter as to how they reached the Tsunami disaster victims, by building houses for them, supporting the livelihood and assistance with food clothing etc.

The communiqué indicated that the 26th General Chapter did not have any special theme. Instead they agreed to go back to their roots where their Founding Father St Don Bosco set example in serving the down trodden children and youth. The delegates have visited his birth place in Bechi, Turin.

It was indicated that they went back to the events that made to establish this great Catholic Congregation by St Don Bosco, tracing the damning plight of youth and children in the 18th century with the dawning of the industrial revolution. Children came in search of employment from rural Italy to big cities like Turin.

But many children could not find work were deserted and abandoned and have become a menace. Loitering in street corners, they were treated as criminals.

Don Bosco has collected them, nursed them and trained those good manners as well as job training, despite huge barriers form certain church leaders. The theme of the 26th General Chapter was thus adopted as what St Don Bosco originally risked in rehabilitating the destitute children.

- Asian Tribune -

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