In an interview with the AGL media department Brother Muller said he had come to the AGL province to follow up on the implementation of various projects that are running in this province, adding that all projects are linked to develop the Salesian mission as well as the service for the young people.
Question : Brother, what is the purpose of your visit ?
Answer : I’m now here for the third time in a short period as I want to follow all these projects. This province with its three countries has a lot of projects, some of them are very costly, some are small projects, but all linked to develop the mission, the service for the young people and what I want to understand is how they are running, if the money is well invested and if the persons who are in charge, especially those who are now rectors or economers are prepared to run these projects and if they are able to manage them.
Question : As someone who has travelled a lot and has watched the projects, you have also spoken with young people : what is your impression ?
Answer : I was coming from Uganda down to Rwanda; as I said in different other meetings these days : I’m very happy for what I have seen in relation to the young people. I met young people speaking very openly. They’ve spoken with me, they told me what is okay, what we can do better, but nobody complained, all of them were very happy to have the chance to study, to have a vocation training centre where they feel well or that they have a boarding where they feel secure and so this is fantastic for me and also I saw the number of young people in our centres growing and this shows that they feel well and that our projects are much needed here.
Question : Today we have visited some projects in Gatenga. How have you seen these projects?
Answer : Okay, I must say that I had known these projects before I visited this place. I made studies about when you started the idea of putting something new in. So, about the vocational training centre, and also what is very new now in Gatenga would be the farm and also the formation in agriculture. So I have to say this now is the right moment to do this. We must not wait, we have to do it soon as all the changes we have, the climate change; we have the change in the society; we have learned now about the pandemic, how important it is to have for example vegetables not coming from far away, but from here, from our area, original produce, so this is just now the right moment to form young people so that they can have later a good job and even also, as we are not only forming them in a technical sense, it is also time to, yeah, to show these young people what values are like peaceful, what the value is of trusting, what the value is of working, and so all this, we have to show these youngsters to do it, so it is now just the right moment to do it, and that new project that we have seen today, this kind of hotel but in the style of the hotel that respects the environment in a green area, is a dream project, we can say. This is not only a project to form young people for us, but even also to form a society to show that we can do something in “green” respecting the environment but at the same time doing something with very good quality and these people should understand as the society is to change and also the challenge is given here in Rwanda. You see around what’s happening in the world, that is also touching Rwanda.
Question : These days the whole world was hit by the pandemic Covid-19. How has it affected the Salesian mission in terms of funding of projects ?
Answer : Well, it touched us not so hard presently, but I’m sure that in the next two, three years, maybe four we will have a big problem to find the funds for our projects as the people who till now have been supporting us, they’ll need the money for their own., as more and more people are becoming poor, even more people are losing their jobs especially in Europe, and the USA and other places so this brings as a consequence that there will be less money for social projects and there is also another change in the societies. I think it’s also starting here but not so strongly as in other continents, for example the individualism: people are looking more for themselves than for others, and this means, that I need, that I take my money for myself, for my needs and not so much for those who are the kids of other people, and this would also touch the Salesians; this means that the programme for the next years is to consolidate, but not to expand.
Question : There’s an idea that I have heard about self-financing. Do you think it’s possible for the Salesian congregation or centres in AGL to do something, so that they can have something like self-financing. Is it possible and if it’s possible, how ?
Answer : I don’t know if it is possible in all the places where we are but for what I have seen in these short visits in Uganda (Namugongo, Palabek) and now here in Gatenga and maybe Butare, I want to urge our provinces worldwide that each community should be self-sufficient, self-sustainable. You have to come to this point : it is clear that if I have a project and I only have on my roof street kids, poor kids, vulnerable kids or where I could make, I would say a mono-programme or a vocational training centre, these would not be self-sugfficient, it cannot be, because the poor cannot pay. In general, each province has to see that the defined projects should also be in collaboration with companies, international companies, in collaboration with governments, in collaboration with the Church or with other congregations or else by own creativity that we produce something and maintain our centre. This is very important for the future. If you don’t do it now you will have to close or to slow down our works for the young people in the future.
Question : What is your message to the young people in AGL ?
Answer : To all of them I have to say (I have taken some nice photos, but also in my mind I have a lot of pictures from youngsters who look happy, also from youngsters who told me about their problems in their families and so on) but the message is this one : the first thing to do is to have confidence in their own capacities, in their own intelligence and also in their own future; the other message is to tell them that they have to use now the time that they are in Salesian houses not only to learn what they have to learn for the school, for the training (technical training) but also they have to make friendships with the other girls and boys here around and to be open for the development of the world, because the discussion for example in the world we have currently the change of the workflow in future, the change of the gender and other changes with mega-trends we have presently in this world would touch young people but they have to use this chance that what they are doing today gives them a better future for tomorrow.
Interviewer (Dusabemungu Ange de la Victoire) : Thank you very much
Interviewee (Brother Jean-Paul Muller) : Thank you
(transcript from the recording)