The Covid-19’s pandemic is opening a new era for humanity. It means many challenges and Salesians are on the front-line due to our educational charisma. Quarantine measures obliged to lock down thousands of schools around the world, including youth centres, children institutions and many other areas that belong directly to the Salesian charisma. If Salesians are nothing without the youth, this is a particular time to reflect on that dimension.
Fortunately, we are in a digital time. The reality of new yards to get in touch with the new generations is open to us by the Internet and its digital media. When the pandemic will be over – and we hope it would come to its end very soon -, humanity will be more digital in facts such as online education, online works, online services, online shopping and many other possibilities. We, probably, will be more online-Salesians with all its meaning.
Cambodia as most countries, has put on force different measures to stop the virus’ spreading in a country that is mostly rural with a weak health system and poor hygienic. However, Cambodians are rather obedient and it seems that they are following well all recommendations that the government disseminates around the country. The most vulnerable regions (Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville), match with the main centres of tourism, business and international exposure.
Students of all Don Bosco schools in Cambodia are at home by now, while Salesians and teachers – many of them from their own house as well, – are leading programs of online education. For many foreign observers, online education could be just impossible, because the idea that this is one of the poorest countries of Asia would bring to the misconception that poor families do not have access to the Internet. It is no real now. In 2011 Cambodia lived the the mobile phone’s booming with the creation of several phone companies and the installation of antennas in all provinces.
Last week, the teachers of Don Bosco in Kep Province, called their 320 students to invite them to join the online platforms to continue their education from home. Students were eager to get in touch with their companions and teachers, but most important, to continue their studies.
Everyday, teachers get online at 8:00 to send the modules of work for the day in skills such as electricity, secretarial, accounting, media communication, hospitality and others. At the same time, the Cambodian government recalled teachers of its public schools to use similar methods with all Cambodian children. The social workers of the Don Bosco Children Fund in Kep did also their call to all the members of the Sun Children program to remind them to connect to the Internet and keep the steps of their respectively schools.
But the intensity of this online communication has not been used only for education and homework. The teachers are sending practical information to the students as how to take care from the virus and protect themselves and their families.
In this sense, we keep on our mission, even if we are in the middle of a quarantine or keeping social distance. We keep social distance, but we keep near in our hearts, especially if we have to be at the side of the youth.