In January 2010, more than one million Haitian children were orphaned by a massive earthquake whose aftermath shook the world. With a 75-year presence in the country, the Salesians have re-affirmed their efforts to serve and educate these vulnerable boys and girls in order to provide a better future.
The earthquake is but one of many tragedies to have struck a country that has long struggled with endemic poverty and despair. Its young victims faced little choice but to learn to survive on the street, joining countless other boys and girls already living there. Begging by day and sleeping under cardboard by night, these homeless youth battle hunger, disease and violence -- with little optimism for the future.
"Our dream is a better Haiti for young people able to take care of themselves, to ensure young people are in safety," says Fr. Sylvain Ducange, Superior of the Salesians in Haiti.
At times, this dream seems hopeless. But faith and tenacity inspire the work of the Salesians.
Since the earthquake alone, for example, they have opened the Timkatec 3 Girls’ School -- providing education to 186 day students and overnight shelter for 40. So far, more than 70 formerly homeless students have graduated from Timkatec 2 Trade School and have begun participating in their country’s rebuilding efforts. And at the Lakay House for Street Children, nearly 150 youth receive food and shelter.
The impact of these programs precedes the earthquake, and demonstrates the Salesians’ long-standing commitment to help at-risk youth. “Severe poverty, homelessness and lack of clean water and food were daily realities even before the earthquake,” says Fr. Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions. “That’s why we were already in Haiti, working to make a difference by providing education and hope to children.”
Positive progress is being made, but Haiti’s youth -- and millions of other at-risk boys and girls around the globe -- need ongoing support. Your caring generosity helps us serve and educate homeless and vulnerable youth so they may find decent jobs and a better life.
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