Bosco Volunteer Action
Learning through action; serving the young and the poor alongside Salesian communities around the world.
Interested in Volunteering?
Bosco Volunteer Action (BOVA) is the UK volunteering organisation of the Salesians of Don Bosco, a Catholic Religious order. It offers placements for adults to serve the young and the poor, living and working alongside Salesian communities around the world.
In addition it supports and encourages methods of raising awareness of development issues. This includes short term group experiences of the developing world for groups from schools and sixth forms, working with other groups who have had an experience of poverty and instances of development education (justice and peace) within youth ministry.
In all aspects of BOVA's work there is a particular focus on providing a well-planned educational experience; stimulating, preparing and encouraging a long term involvement with development issues, faith and the Salesian family.
Who are the Salesians?
The Salesians of Don Bosco are an international Roman Catholic Religious Order dedicated to be signs and bearers of the love of God for young people, especially those who are disadvantaged.
The Salesian family (made up of Priests, Brothers and Sisters as well as others, such as volunteers and past pupils), continues the work of its founder, Saint John Bosco, a priest who served the young and poor. Today the Salesians have projects such as schools, youth centres, homes for street children and vocational training centres.
What does BOVA offer?
Bosco Volunteer Action (BOVA) is a volunteer group of the Salesians. It offers opportunities to adults (18+) to live and work with Salesian communities around the world, assisting in their work with young people while experiencing life outside of the UK. Placements last between one month and two years.
The work BOVA volunteers offer varies depending on the needs of the host community and the skills of the volunteer. Previous volunteers have assisted in schools, vocational training centres, office work and administration, youth centres and residential centres, coached sport, led music, taught maths, ICT (computers) and English.
BOVA does not charge a placement fee as we are not aiming to make a profit out of volunteers. However, we cannot afford to make a loss either, so volunteers are not paid and are expected to cover the cost of their training (two training weekends), flights, insurance, visas and so on. The host community usually provides food, lodgings and work.
The Salesians are in 128 countries - all around the world.
So far, BOVA volunteers have lived and worked with host communities in Bolivia, Ghana, India, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, Tanzania... and the list continues to grow. Please note that BOVA aims to match volunteers to communities' needs, so cannot guarantee a placement in a particular country.
Benefits to you:
- Life experience: of working and living in a different culture
- An opportunity to serve
- Personal development
- A break from life in the UK
- An experience of living with/alongside a religious community
- A carefully planned educational process
BOVA recognises that the main beneficiaries of a volunteer experience in the developing world are the volunteers themselves. We therefore attempt to enhance the educational benefit through pre-departure training, support and formation during the placement, and debrief and ongoing communication after return to the UK. We hope that the volunteer experience will act as a stimulus for ongoing involvement with development issues, BOVA and the Salesian family.
Benefits to host communities:
In some circumstances volunteering can be exploitative of the developing world. BOVA works hard to avoid this situation by carefully checking both volunteer and placement, attempting to match skills, interests and requirements. Volunteers are just one part of an ongoing Salesian presence, so while their contribution is valuable, the project in which they work will not suffer too much when their placement ends.
How Christian/religious is all this?
BOVA, as all the Salesian family, has its foundations in a joyful expression of Christian service. Placements are with host communities of priests and brothers who have given their lives to serve God in this way. However, BOVA is happy to accept volunteers of other faiths or no faith, on the understanding that they will be respectful of the faith dimension and sensitive to the requirements of their host community. This may involve attending prayers or Mass.
To find out more...