Bringing Hope Across Borders

The Salesian Missionary Volunteer Program as put on by SDB West, recently carried out its first missionary expedition since the pandemic began, bringing hope and aid to those in need in the Tijuana Salesian Project. The program brought together 12 students from St Francis High School in Watsonville, California, aged between 14 and 17 years old, and guided by two of their teachers (Christopher Croghan and Michael Doherty), the director (Juan Carlos Montenegro), and provincial coordinator of the Volunteer Program (Luis Chacon). 

The Salesian Missionary Volunteers spent their time helping the homeless, feeding over 800 people who had been deported from the United States or were trying to cross the border. They also visited an orphanage for children living with AIDS who had been abandoned by their parents. The volunteers spent time with the children and brightened up their day. The experience touched the hearts of both the children and volunteers, many of whom encountered Christ in the face of these children for the first time.

In addition to their work with the homeless and orphans, the Salesian Missionary Volunteers also helped maintain and clean two Youth Centers, both located on the outskirts of the city. The first center, “Domingo Savio Oratory,” is situated between two gangs that have violent tension but respect the youth center. Here, the volunteers painted and gave messages of hope. The second center, the “Don Bosco Oratory,” is where the Salesian religious community lives and hosts a group of 80 mothers with their children from all over Latin America, as well as an elementary school and workshops. The Volunteers brought joy to the children with games and helped clean up the place.

The experience was transformative for the young volunteers, with one saying, “It has been an experience that definitely changed the way I see the world.” Another expressed a desire to become a missionary for a longer period. The Salesian Missionary Volunteer Program is not only making a difference in the lives of those it serves, but it is also helping to shape the next generation of compassionate leaders who will continue to bring positive change to the world.

In a time where the world seems to be divided by borders and politics, the Salesian Missionary Volunteer Program reminds us of the importance of reaching out to those in need, regardless of where they come from. The program is an inspiring example of how we can all make a difference, one person at a time, and how we can work towards creating a more compassionate and just world.