by Jennifer Passerino

In February, 25 students from Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, N.J., took part in the school’s eighth mission trip to Nicaragua. The first trip was in 2011.

In 2013, the parents of Fr. Manny Gallo, SDB, started a foundation named after the mother of St. John Bosco, Mama Margarita, for the purpose of serving the poor in Nicaragua. Since 2013, students from Don Bosco Prep have spent a week-long trip during their February break focusing on expanding the growth of Mama Margarita through the construction of facilities and outreach programs. If you step into Mama Margarita today, you will see three dormitories, a playground, a soccer field, and a building that serves as a kitchen and dining room, all built with the help of Don Bosco Prep students over these eight years. 80 to 100 children attend the Foundation daily to pray the Rosary and then are given a meal, which usually is the only one for them for the day.

Not only did the Don Bosco Prep students serve the children of Mama Margarita daily during this trip, but they were also able to build a home for a local family. The mission trip also included the outreach to waste-pickers at the Masaya dump site. These impoverished people collect raw materials from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., to sell later, making only $2 a day. To understand their plight better, our students participated in a social justice workshop, led by faculty member Michael McLean. They studied the history and economic situation of Nicaragua and then took part in an exercise of going to a local supermarket to see what they could buy with $2 a day. The exercise helped the boys realize that workers at the dump site cannot afford certain items that can be luxuries in the U.S.

The Foundation is fully a Salesian oratory, which also provides financial support for seven children to receive a Salesian education in Masaya. This year’s missionary adventure, the largest to date with 40 participants, was also a medical mission brigade, bringing three doctors and three nurses from New Jersey and New York, along with two doctors from Nicaragua, who were able to attend to 150 patients in five days.

Don Bosco Prep is proud of these young people and the chaperones who accompanied them on this life-changing experience in which they lived the words of Pope Francis, who said that all Christians are called to confront the material, spiritual, and moral destitution of “our brothers and sisters, to touch it, to make it our own, and to take practical steps to alleviate the pain.”

March 8, 2018 - 2:58pm
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