SLM Journal: Sharing the experiences of our Salesian Lay Missioners
Theresa Henry graduated from Villanova last year with her sights set on Medical School. With a year in between, she was looking for a way to make a difference. "I wanted to go abroad and work with young people and the Salesian Lay Missioner (SLM) program enabled me to do both," she recalls.
My assignment was to teach 10th grade English as well as spoken English to grades 8, 9, 10 and 11 at the Salesian compound in Dilla, Ethiopia. On Saturdays, I work at the Feeding Center where I help shower the younger kids. I also enjoy helping out at the medical clinic although it's not part of my assignment.
There are various levels of poverty in the area. Many families walk miles just to get one meal at the Feeding Center. Others are a little better off and can afford to buy pasta.
The high school is one building. Books are scarce and 20 books are shared among 105 kids, then collected and used for the next class. The kids are amazing – they are very eager to learn but sometimes it's a challenge to maintain discipline.
The Don Bosco School is the best in the area. Children receive a great education enabling them to get good jobs and help their families. The buildings are old but they're not as bad as others.
Malnourishment is a huge problem and people are dying because they lack proper healthcare. By our standards, healthcare is inexpensive at only about $3 to treat typhoid, but most people cannot afford this cost. Hospital are run down and need improvement.
"The experience has had a big impact in my life. I am very interested in pursuing women's healthcare when I go to med school – I think we need to do a better job empowering women. Before joining the SLM program, I also considered the Peace Corps. But I know I couldn't have done this without the tremendous spiritual support I received from the Salesians."
Salesian Lay Missioners is now accepting applications for 2011-2012 through May 2011. Basic service requirements consist of practicing adult Catholics who are US Citizens, have a college degree or comparable work experience, are in good and stable health, have a good sense of humor and love working with kids and serving the poor.
Salesian Lay Missioners provides room & board, medical insurance, a stipend, and travel expenses to and from the mission site. Sites currently available are: Bolivia, Brazil, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Cambodia, India and others. There is also a Salesian Domestic Volunteer Program! To apply and find out more information, visit: http://www.salesianlaymissioners.org