Tuloy Sa Don Bosco, the street children village south of Manila, is reaching out way beyond the walls of its centre to seek out other youth in need. On 15 July 2011, Tuloy launched its first ever mobile school. The 40-foot cube mobile container van converted into a classroom will benefit a resettlement community of urban squatters in Laguna, literally a province by the lake as the name suggests, the new frontier of the Salesians of the FIN and their seventh community in the diocese of Salesian bishop Leo Drona.
In a synergy of Salesian forces on behalf of the poor, both the founder of the street children village, Fr. Marciano Evangelista, and the pioneer of the squatters resettlement community, Fr. Salvador Pablo, believe like Don Bosco that the Salesians will have to adapt to the needs of the poor youth with a quick reading of the signs of the times. It is not the youth that have to adapt to the Salesians and their works.
Mr John Kerr, a Scottish lay volunteer in the street children village and board member of Tuloy Foundation, conceived the idea as a response to the growing number of students who drop out despite free education in public schools. The most common reason cited was the lack of money for transportation and the need to work. Thus, Tuloy Foundation is now venturing out and seeking the youth-in-need where they are, in order to equip them with practical skills and values to empower them for work.
“Still, there are more children out there,” Fr Evangelista said. “We have to do something to reach out to the children who cannot be accommodated within the walls of the Street Children Village.” Thus, the Skills on Wheels (SOW) project was born. As Kerr says, “SOW the seed of work skills and watch as individuals and their community grow.”
Initial courses to be offered are Consumer Electronics and Motorcycle Repair. The Consumer Electronics course will teach skills for troubleshooting and repair of electrical appliances such as electric fans, TV, electrical outlets, circuits and wiring, and cell phone repair. Graduates will receive a TESDA-accredited National Certificate 2 (NC-2).
The Motorcycle Repair course has practical use for a community that uses tricycles as a common mode of transportation. The course will offer formal talks from a resource person from a motorcycle company. The mobile van can hold up to a maximum of 25 students. Classes will run from Mondays to Fridays for four hours a day. After finishing these courses, graduates can hopefully use their acquired knowledge to start their own business right from their own homes.
After the blessing of the first mobile van for the resettlement community in Laguna, benefactors of the Tuloy sa Don Bosco Street Children Village pledged more vans to come.