Don Bosco Prep Students Conduct Youth Ministry Trip to Nicaragua
April 4, 2012 – Students from Don Bosco Prep travelled to the Republic of Nicaragua recently to minister to the poor living in city dumps, homes for elderly and disabled, schools, and slums. This nation, which has been torn by revolution, earthquakes and hurricanes, is the poorest in Central America.
Fr. Manny Gallo, Director of Youth Ministry at Don Bosco Prep, a native of Managua, Nicaragua, led the trip of 12 students, chaperones, and 4 students from brother school, Salesian High School in New Rochelle, NY. Organized through a Christian non-denominational mission program, the students worked in various sites and were encouraged to develop relationships with the people there. “We saw how the human spirit can survive,” Fr. Manny said, “and what motivates people to get up every morning and work at a dump site.”
Students witnessed a little two-year-old girl who was sitting amidst the mountains of trash, while her mother, who couldn’t afford child care, worked somewhere away. The students made several meals and fed them to the families living in the dump. One of the adults on the trip, Fr. Manny’s mother, met with the little girl’s mother, asked her what trade she would like to receive training in, and raised money through her church, to provide the training necessary for the mother to provide properly for her child.
They also visited slums, where children, who could not afford to purchase the school uniforms, played in the streets, rather than attend school. The boys from Don Bosco Prep told them stories from the bible, with the help of a translator, evangelizing the children. They visited families in their homes built of corrugated metal, scrap lumber, and cardboard, who were proud of their humble residences, and generous of spirit in their hospitality extended to the students.
“We reflected every day on our experiences, thoughts, and feelings,” Fr. Manny explained, “and we asked ourselves where we saw Jesus during our days.” The boys were understandably upset about what they saw, such as families living at the dump sites, and they needed to debrief.
The trip also took the students to area factories, from sweatshops and free-trade zones, to fair-trade workplaces, where workers were paid a living wage in a healthy working environment, so that they could witness the wide range of working conditions available to the poor.
The trip also brought the students to Don Bosco Colegio Salesiano, a technical school in Granada, Nicaragua, where students of the school studied baking, beauty school arts, printing, painting, theater, mechanics, and all sorts of trades, much the same as St. John Bosco had founded at his school in Turin.