MATUNGA-MUMBAI, APRIL 11, 2013
4-9 April 2013, thirty eight youngsters together with three volunteers (pre novices) and backed by an energetic DBYS team – Frs. Glenn, Cleophas, Osborne, and Clerics Johnson and Avil – ventured into the
missions of Gujarat to have a first-hand experience of ‘Salesian Gujarat’. A day prior to the journey, the young missionaries were given an orientation on the Mission camp ahead.
The eager youngsters were given a guided tour of the Don Bosco Matunga complex that also included a visit to the famous Crypt and Shrine of Don Bosco’s Madonna. The well maintained spacious grounds impressed them too. After a round of ice breakers and getting to know one another, every camper was asked to share his expectations of the camp. Campers were then invited to make personal commitments and to ‘own the Mission camp’ right from the start. Many also brought contributions from their personal sacrifices to donate to the missions!
‘Mission as Reaching Out’ was the theme for his first day. Arriving Don Bosco Snehalaya in the cold early hours of the morning, the warmth of Fr. Steve Rodrigues and his young boys set the tone to the start of the Mission Camp. Tired but still energetic, they played football and basketball. After breakfast, Fr. Steve Rodrigues, Rector briefed the Campers on the works and ministry at DB Snehalaya. A DBYS souvenir was then presented to the Rector.
Our next destination was a visit to one of the Seven wonders of India – the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Dam Project. We were fortunate to get permission to visit the hydro project too. “Marvellous! We only studied about it in our books… now we can really see it with our eyes”, said a young camper. Don Bosco –Tanakhla welcomed us with a hot meal that included ‘rotlo’. Frs. Joseph Soares and Rosario took them on a guided tour. Harvesting onions, cleaning maize from the cobs and actually ‘making hay while the sun shines’ was a first-hand experience in farming for all.
Don Bosco Chhotaudeipur was our home for the next three days where we were welcomed by Fr. James Tuscano, Rector and the Salesians and boys. The luxuries of home were slowly being replaced by a more austere style of life: bath in open spaces, sleeping on the floor, washing one’s own plate… During the Eucharist, the youth were reminded that in order to ‘Reach Out’, one has to ‘Reach In’ first; you cannot give what you don’t have! You have to first possess Christ and His Gospel to be missionaries.
‘Mission as Understanding of Cultures’ was the theme for the second day. The morning meditation focused on the same theme of Understanding Culture and placing Jesus Christ in the context of his culture. Braving the scorching sun and dusty roads, the visit to the ‘Hat’ market and the Museum was an eye-opener to many. Team building exercises and a session by Fr. Tuscano enabled one and all to understand the mission works of the community. Bro. Nigrel gave a guided tour through the farm and hatchery too. The eagerly awaited football match against the school boys had an air of anticipation in it. True to history, Mission campers have never won so far… this time was no different. The scores 6-0 ! A perfect course in humility for the city boys. A ‘Ratwa dance’ erased all memories of the defeat… hand in hand the campers danced with the students.
‘Understanding Vocation and Mission’ was the theme for the third day. The Eucharist and meditation focused on the same theme. Our next destination was a visit to Kawant. Fr. Gregory Almeida, Rector and the Salesians and boys welcomed us with song. Fresh green mango juice quenched every thirsty throat. We then set off to a nearby village to visit a Self Help Group. Songs and dances during this wedding season could be seen all over. Fr. Gregory enlightened the campers on the activities of the DB Mission in terms of VEPs, SHGs, Empowerment and Governance Programs. Another football match…another course in humility. 6-0 again! I guess, in Mumbai we see more football on TV and play less on grounds. A ‘cool in the pool’ time was enjoyed to the full after a day in sunny Kawant. Back at Chhotaudeipur, a value-based Camp-Fire was organized that focused on the Values of Love, Respect, Justice and Freedom. A walk down the sandy dry river bed, under the starry skies, was enjoyable but frightful too. Tired legs trekked back for a well-deserved sleep.
‘Mission as Understanding Charisms in the Church’ was the theme for this day. The young campers had opportunities to learn the Salesian Charism at Narukot and the mission in the villages around. Thanks to Fr. Pravin Makwana, Rector and the community for a very sumptuous meal. The campers also had an experience to know the Charisms of the FMA, the Missionaries of Charity and the Carmelite Order at Baroda. The campers took the opportunity to ask questions, play with the children and offer prayer requests to the Carmelites too. In the evening, a visit to Don Bosco Makarpura rounded off the day. Fr. Kenneth Pereira, Rector welcomed us. A moment of interaction with the youth of Don Bosco Parish was enriching and very friendly. We performed ‘Undignified’ – an action song that was well appreciated.
An overall evaluation and a well-deserved MISSION CAMP Certificate was awarded to all the campers. Thanks to all the DBYS organizers, the Volunteers and the various communities for making this MISSION CAMP 2013 a fruitful and meaningful experience.