Artesanos Don Bosco is one project in a long list of volunteer-run charitable works of the organization called Operazione Mato Grosso (OMG).
Father Ugo De Censi is a Catholic priest, belonging to the Salesian Congregation. A faithful devotee of St. John Bosco, he loves to work with the youth. In 1967 he founded OMG, a movement created to help people in poverty.
Operazione Mato Grosso started off as an adventurous trip with the idea to help others. In 1966, Fr. Ugo asked a group of young Italians to travel to Brazil for the summer to help his missionary friend, Fr. Pietro, build a school and health post. By July of the next year, 21 young people left for the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso. After four months of work, they were not able to complete the building, and some decided to stay. Those who returned to Italy started to raise money to support the mission.
Over the years, the volunteer movement expanded in Italy where today there are hundreds of groups and thousands of individuals. Every day, volunteers meet in their free time to carry out work projects – landscaping, painting, collecting clothing, and recycling sharp metal – to raise money.
After its positive impact in Brazil, OMG extended its volunteer efforts to Bolivia, Ecuador, and finally, to Peru. Meanwhile, Father Ugo became the pastor of Chacas, a village in the Andes Mountains of Peru. His sacrifice and dedication to those in need set an example for many young people who desired to follow his lead.
Nowadays there are more than 500 volunteers living in the four countries, some who have raised their own families and lived there for as many as 30 years. In Peru alone, they organize projects in 69 different communities.
Here are a few examples of our projects:
- nursing school
- hospital for the poor
- home for the elderly
- homes for abandoned and orphans
- training institute for teachers
- reforestation and agricultural campaigns
- mountain shelters and hostel for tourists
- hydroelectric company and power plants
- potable water facilities and irrigation canals
- clinics and food distribution outlet
To learn more, download the PDF of OPERATION MATO GROSSO.