St. John Bosco dedicated his entire life for the education of vulnerable young people. His education largely consisted in giving life-skills to teenagers and young adults to be self-reliant and find a way out in life. What Don Bosco did nearly 150 years ago is being continued by his sons, the Salesians of Don Bosco. They continue to offer vocational training to the poor and abandoned youngsters and now they are extending this timely activity to youth who are refugees and migrants. Don Bosco Vocational Training Center (DB VTC) in Palabek is one such example. The VTC which began teaching in January 2019 has trained at least 800 young men and women who find themselves sojourners in the northern part of Uganda; many of them come from South Sudan as refugees. Don Bosco used to say, “If you want to do something beautiful for God, help in the education of the poor youth.” Yes, it is a blessing and fulfilling mission to offer education to the deserving youth. Indeed refugees are the most deserving young people. In February 2020 DB VTC Palabek had admitted 236 students in the school. Due to food shortage, closure of the school for several months, pre-mature marriages, early pregnancy among the girl-students and other problems students were forced to discontinue their training. It was painful for the Salesians to lose the students unexpectedly. On 2nd February 2021 139 young people graduated at DB VTC, Palabek with skill-certificates in Tailoring, Building, Motor Mechanic, Electrical, Solar installations, Hair-dressing and Agriculture. Among them 45 are young women and 94 are young men. It is unfortunate that due to the coronavirus epidemic 97 students dropped out of the course. Monsignor Vincent Ojok of Kitgum Vicariate of the Gulu Archdiocese presided over the celebrations and witnessed the joy of young people proudly possessing the certificates. Almost all the students are primary school dropouts with very little literacy skills; but now they are able to do something in life with their technical skills. Seeing the joy of the students Rev. Fr. Vincent rightly said, “Perhaps this is the first and the last educational experience of these poor youth.”
We have already admitted another 300 young people for this year’s training, who will graduate in December 2021.
Fr. Lazar Arasu SDB-Director.