Due to ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, recession in Europe, natural disasters in Asia and Africa, and many other factors, more and more children have nowhere else to live but on the street. In more than 130 countries around the world, Salesian missionaries have vowed to rescue as many homeless youth as they can.
“Until the underlying conditions change, we know these numbers will only continue to rise,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions. “In the developing nations where our missionaries serve, it’s a vicious and heartbreaking cycle: governments don’t have the resources they need to address the poverty, violence and despair that lead to more and more children being on the streets -- enduring repeated violations of their rights and unable to escape their circumstances.”
When homeless youth arrive in a Salesian-run rehabilitation program, our missionaries’ first priority is to restore their dignity by providing for their most basic needs -- including critical nourishment. Fortunately, Salesian Missions maintains long-term, trusted relationships with relief partners who donate tons of fortified meals every year. And, with the help of our many compassionate friends, we can ship this food to hungry children and families all over the world. In fact, during the past year alone, our missionaries have fed tens of thousands of children in Cambodia, Haiti, India, Madagascar, Nicaragua, Peru, Sierra Leone, Uganda and many other countries through school- and community-based feeding programs.
In Sierra Leone, for example, Don Bosco Fambul reaches out to an estimated 2,500 homeless youth in and around Freetown every year -- offering rehabilitation and reunification services within a holistic framework that emphasizes educational opportunities. And adequate nutrition is key.
“Students cannot concentrate or learn when they’re distracted by gnawing hunger,” says Fr. Mark. “This is why feeding programs are so crucial to our efforts; breaking the chains of poverty requires the ability to succeed in school."
Because Salesian missionaries live and work within the communities they serve, “they understand how to navigate existing bureaucracy and get things done,” he continues. “This means that these meals make it into the hands and homes of those who need it most.”
Our mission feeds hungry street children so that education, and a pathway out of poverty, become possibilities. What’s your mission?