People | Both sides

A Road to the Future
WORKING FOR CHILDREN. Workers and volunteers who participated in the fifth summer camp.

The Head of the Cartagena facility, Francisco López, collaborates with the Don Bosco Federation in the Region of Murcia to offer children and young people at risk of social exclusion tools to improve their quality of life.

Information and the experiences of a friend led Francisco López, Head of the CLH facility in Cartagena, to actively collaborate with the Don Bosco Federation. “I already knew about the Salesian work and really wanted to participate in their activities, so I got involved,” he says. The experience is allowing him to understand a reality that “we may not always see, but is very much present in our society and which we must help change because it’s all about the future of children and young people with a whole life ahead of them”.

What is the Don Bosco Federation?

It’s a youth volunteer organization comprised of three associations (Magone, Áncora and Anima) that do social educational work in the Region of Murcia. It’s tied to the work of the Salesians and, since 1990, has been working to improve the quality of life of the most underprivileged and especially little kids.

“Just like all the work the Federation does, this activity offers children a future outlook they would otherwise never contemplate” What kind of activities does it do?

The Federation offers technical and legal support so its organizations can engage in educational projects aimed at fostering the social integration of young people, improve social justice and meet the needs of at-risk groups.

How did you begin collaborating?

Through direct contact with the people leading the project and totally convinced of the substance and humanitarian work they do. I haven’t been with them for many years, but I’ve been able to participate in several of their programmes. The most intensive one was the summer camp they hold in Cartagena each year for minors at risk of exclusion or in delicate situations.

What is it all about?

The project focuses on social integration through education and community activities. Led by the Anima Association of Cartagena, the camp offers a values-based education so boys and girls aged 6 to 16 referred by the city’s social services and other organizations can learn how to integrate into today’s society. The fun and learning stimulate them to improve and focus on their future.

COMMITTED TO THE ENVIRONMENT. Work was done this year to enhance environmental awareness. The camp also offered plenty of opportunities for some leisure time.

What has been your role?

I’m a member of ‘team zero’ whose mission is to support the organization. Some of our tasks include looking for funding, providing bus accompaniment, cleaning the premises and pool, organizing and serving meals and anything else needed to serve the kids. I’ve also been able to help with the volunteering team on scheduled activities. The camp always focuses on values-based education and awareness (respect, commitment, solidarity....). But, this year, it also added an environmental side to educate the kids on issues like using resources and recycling. All the work has been done through talks, workshops and dynamics.

What has the experience been like?

Fantastic and very enriching. There have been tender moments which are both hard and emotional. It opens up a window to the reality around us and you learn tolerance, patience and determination to overcome whatever life throws in the way. When dealing with kids with such complicated situations (some with parents in prison and others who have been abandoned or suffered violence), you realize our society has a lot of shortcomings and you don’t have to go to an underprivileged country to see it. Just like all the work the Federation does, this activity helps offer children a future outlook they would otherwise never contemplate. It’s been great to become friends with them and see how a little effort can be rewarded.

Will you continue working with them?
FACILITY HEAD. Francisco López, in his office at the Cartagena facility.

Seeing how these boys and girls evolve really encourages me to keep on. In fact, the project continues with educational and training activities and follow-up. I’ve been quite impressed with the important work the Salesian community is doing as well as the group of youth volunteers and ‘team zero’, all of whom reflect priceless human quality and pedagogical and psychological work. I’d like to continue collaborating so people with less chances can come out ahead and prove that, even though society treats them unfairly, they can all improve their own futures.