Focus 2006

O.M.G. - BCG01-04-2006

Project: Operation Mato Grosso
Date of foundation: 1979
Place: Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brasile
Province: ECU, PER, BOL, BCG

Operation Mato Grosso (OMG) is an interfaith educational missionary volunteer movement addressed especially to the young, to whom it suggests being involved freely with the poor. It began in Val Fornazza (Domodossa) in 1967 from a group of young people led by Father Ugo de Censi, Salesian missionary working at Chacas in Perù.

The main guidelines for the movement is to give money to those most in need, which is earned from one’s own sweat and labour. The young people, by organising work groups, work camps, learn to give their time and money to the less fortunate amongst them.

The results of their efforts, organised in Italy into 130 groups, helps sustain the work of the O.M.G. in Latin America. Here some 400 permanent volunteers lend a hand to more than eighty poor and isolated communities in Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil e Perù: educational services(oratories, schools for technical formation in carpentry, wood carving, renovation, teaching), social services (drinking water, irrigation channels, roads, schools, electricity centres, cultivation, nurture), health services (hospitals, clinics, nursing schools) and infant welfare (orphanages and reception centres for abandoned children)

Method: To support the activities carried out by volunteers in the missions there are many groups of young people and adults who, in Italy, come together and work to collect the funds needed. The young people carry out work in groups during weekdays and at weekends, in various work camps. These see the young people involved collecting paper, garbage and broken items; or as workers on farms, building works, cleaning streets, building and managing shelters. The activities of the different missions are carried out thanks to these work camps, and the activities of the adult groups and charity of generous people. In Latin America there are numerous expeditions where the OMG volunteers (young people, families, priests) carry out activities in educational, religious, health, agriculture and social fields in general. The volunteers offer their work completely gratis.

Seven main points concerning OMG:
1. Work rather than talk.
2. The group is basic because by working together, people mature.
3. Breaking out of the protective layer of family, parish, nation: is being missionary.
4. O.M.G. critiques thing by actions rather than words. Practical work is worth more than words and brings one’s own life into discussion.
5. The crucial point is that one needs to pay up personally, be consistent, live poorly.
6. Be good and don’t judge other people.
7. Being ready to die for others. Sacrificing oneself by giving one’s life in love.

Examples of Works:
OMG is in 4 countries: Perù, in more than 40 communities, Ecuador 17, Bolivia 9, Brazil 12.

The School started up in 1979. From the beginning, it functioned as a free boarding school where pupils receive instruction, technical formation, food and lodging. The boys are taken into parish accommodation on the basis of the poverty of their families and they are taught love for the land, for their traditions and for their faith in God. The school lasts 5 years and the course of studies is officially recognised by the government which gives a professional woodworking certificate to the students. Today around 700 pupils belong to the school.

The young people who have left school receive a gift of tools to work with. To avoid the boys heading for the city in search of work, a family of young workers has been created, initially in Chacas, and then later in other areas. The main aim of this workers family is to keep young people on the right track, so they can set up Christian Families and help as catechists in the Oratory. It is a true counter cultural activity, countering selfishness, vice, comfort....nearly all the furniture built is sold in Italy, but a market has also opened in Lima and in the U.S.A. in Baltimore. Currently in the Family there are 600 boys.

3. "DON BOSCO" HIGHER INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: In 1988 the "Don Bosco" Higher Institute of Technology was started up with the approval of the Peruvian government. After 6 academic semesters, they receive the title of specialist in wood construction. For three months a year the members of the Family follow courses for improving their work with professors Peruvian or Italian. The study also includes: Artistic design, history of art, sciences and business administration. To give practical response to the needs of the boys the following specialisations are also on offer: Electromechanics, Nursing, Renovation, Mountain Guiding, Archeology; what has been earned from all this is given back to those who are most poor.

4. "Maria Auxiliadora" SCHOOL AND COOPERATIVE: Seeing the results obtained with the boys, the idea came up of creating a similar work with poor girls and in 1982 a textile school began in Yanama. Other schools opened up later: Sapchà, Huaipàn, San Luis, Tinti, San Martin and Totora, where around 300 pupils are studying. Also with the girls who have finished school, a Cooperative has begun carrying the name of "Mary Auxiliadora" where alpaca sweaters are made by hand and exported to Italy. An embroidery school has also begun.

5. ORATORY OF THE ANDES: The Oratory began in 1985 with 450 children; today there are more than 23,000 oratorians.

6. NON-GOVERNMENT HIGHER PEDAGOGICAL INSTITUTE "DON BOSCO" CHACAS: To properly prepare teachers so they can teach well. The following are given priority in pedagogical formation by the Institute: - A good Christian formation, so that the teachers know how to pass on the Christian message and its principal values, social projection through the service of local communities.

7. "MAMA ASHU" HOSPITAL: a dream realised for the poor in the Peruvian Sierra. A hospital, dedicated to Mama Ashu (Mary assumed into heaven) Patronness of Chacas, where the poor can be looked after free and with love. 50 beds are available, as well as: First aid, radiology, laboratory, natal ward, operating theatre, chemists, dental studio.

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