What can we do to protect and respect God’s astonishing creation…the planet Earth? At times, any effort seems futile; the constant barrage of bad news — worsening smog, melting polar ice, floating islands of plastic waste — is disheartening. In India, the “Don Bosco Green Alliance” is countering this narrative with a message of hope, and providing youth with the resources and tools for change.
Formed this past December in Mumbai, the Alliance seeks to support Salesian-led schools as they shift to an educational model designed in the spirit of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si.“Rampant development and construction is ruining the natural environment around us,” says Father Maria Arokiam Kanaga, regional councilor for the Salesian province of South Asia. “We must teach our students to return to the Garden of Eden, the paradise for which God created us, where there is harmony between God, man and nature. We need to make a paradigm shift now. In all our educational institutions, we need to increase eco-based education, and create a love of nature in our students.”
A new website, launched on April 1st, is helping to foster that love of nature, by teaching youth about the impacts of human activity on the planet’s ecosystem, and connecting them with bold initiatives to help reverse the damage. Through colorful images and positive messaging, the website inspires hope for action toward positive change.
“Young people, take up the Green Challenge!” exclaims the home page.
Although the Alliance is based in India, its impact is by design far-reaching. “We’re growing the organization,” says Father Savio Silveira, vice provincial of the Salesian province of Mumbai. He and his fellow missionaries ultimately envision bringing together an international collective of young people from Don Bosco institutions who seek to participate in global environmental action, thought and policy. In doing so, they hope to build up a new generation of environmentally committed citizens and leaders.
Key priorities include diminishing air pollution, which kills seven million people each year; reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which have reached record-high levels; and eliminating the use of disposable plastics, which account for 300 million tons of plastic waste annually including the estimated eight million tons that end up in the ocean.
As Pope Francis said “…we human beings are part of the environment. We live in communion with it, since the environment itself entails ethical limits which human activity must acknowledge and respect.” (Address to U.N. General Assembly, New York, Sept. 26, 2015)
For more information on this innovative initiative, please visit www.dbgreen.in.