Board members Eunice Cheng Chua and Hugo Bänziger, along with Esther Bänziger visited the Don Bosco Vocational Training center in Tondo, the slum area near Manila’s shipping part on December 23, 2016. The visitors received a warm welcome from Father Gaudencio, the dean of the school. As a Christmas fundraiser, the Don Bosco football field was temporarily converted to a holiday theme park, with a small Ferris wheel and a dragon boat as the main attractions. The entrance fee is 5 Pesos (about ten cents in US currency) to enable the local and impoverished community to enjoy, as it is the only park they can afford. Father Gaudencio expects 200,000 visitors to the holiday theme park during this season.
Don Boscos training center in Tondo was founded as part of the worldwide Don Bosco movement in the late 1960s and now trains young men and women technical skills in engineering and manufacturing as well as hospitality and culinary skills. The comprehensive apprenticeship program takes two years and focuses on talented but poor students. Graduates then can find jobs in mechanical engineering, facilities management, trucking, food processing or in the merchant navy or cruise lines.
The purpose of group’s visit was to negotiate a strategic cooperation agreement between the JDVSF and Don Bosco under which JDVSF children would get access to Don Bosco and the JDVSF would help to modernize the tool and machine park needed for the technical training. Good progress was made and the final agreement is expected to be signed in January 2017.