Kenya

Population:44.35 millionLiteracy Rate:87%Religion: Roman Catholic (23.3%)

Salesian missionaries are helping poor youth and their families through education, nutrition and workforce development in the Kakuma refugee camp and across Kenya. Nearly 45 percent of the population lives in conditions of poverty. In addition, UNICEF notes that while Kenya has free and compulsory education, disadvantaged youth still cannot afford to attend school, resulting in close to 90 percent of children from poor households failing to complete their basic education.

Featured Mission

Build Shelters for Homeless

In Kenya, homeless youth join “Bosco Boys” programs dedicated to creating positive change.  Three centers provide services for youth at different stages.

  • Bosco Boys Kariua runs a nursery school and weekend program where street children gather for sporting events and to wash their clothes.  
  • Bosco Boys Langata is a rehabilitation center where new boys can overcome addictions and behaviors learned on the street.  
  • Bosco Boys Kuwinda provides education and training opportunities for street children, as well as poor children from the neighborhood.

At each, boys prepare for the new life ahead of them.


More Missions in Kenya

Build Schools

While Kenya has free and compulsory education, poor children still cannot afford to attend school – and 9 out of 10 children from poor households fail to complete their basic education, according to UNICEF.

However, through Salesian Missions programs, students in need find opportunities for learning:

  • At-risk children have access to primary education.  
  • Youth take part in enrichment activities such as young journalists and the environment club.  
  • Refugees obtain vocational skills which leads to sustainable livelihoods.   

Even teachers take part in learning – receiving training in classroom management, teacher effectiveness, educational leadership and new learning theories.

Protect Youth from Disease

In Kenya, peer education is an effective tool for reaching youth with key disease prevention messages. As part of the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the “Life Choices” program focuses on abstinence and faithfulness. Gender is also an important component, including focus on sexual violence. The program extends to youth centers, schools, orphans and vulnerable children centers and in community/social outreach programs. More than 40,000 youth have learned about HIV/AIDS prevention through the program.

Bring Sports Programs

In Kenya, street children improve their lives through a holistic programming approach that incorporates sporting activities. At the Don Bosco Boys center in Kariua, in the heart of Nairobi, a weekend program brings street children together for sporting events and to meet basic needs. At the center in Kuwinda, boys participate in the sports club and acrobats club in addition to academic classes. These sports activities build self-esteem and a sense of belonging, as well as promote healthy lifestyles.

Bring Classrooms to Refugee Camps

The Don Bosco Mission Korr in Kenya provides services within the Kakuma refugee camp, which was established in 1992 near Kenya’s border with South Sudan. It was a place of refuge for unaccompanied minors fleeing war in what was then southern Sudan. Kakuma is operated by UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency, with assistance from Salesian missionaries in the country as well as several other humanitarian organizations. The camp offers refugees safety, security and life-saving services such as housing, healthcare, clean water and sanitation.

Today, the Kakuma refugee camp has more than 180,000 refugees, well over the 120,000-person capacity for which it was built. Within Kakuma, Salesian missionaries provide eight outreach locations and a Catholic parish, and operate four technical training facilities in the camp. The main center offers technical trades as well as a literacy and math program. Another technical school offers agricultural education where 320 youth learn advanced farming skills each year. In addition, a technology-focused center provides the community with access to computer training. The technical programs in Kakuma have successfully trained thousands of youth in viable trades in order for them to earn a living and care for their families.

Teach Job Skills to Youth

In Kenya, approximately 12,000 children and youth are being served at vocational institutions and schools. For example, in the Bosco Boys program, youth receive training in trades such as carpentry, tailoring, mechanics and tailoring. In addition to class activities, the students take orders from customers and receive payment for jobs well done. In this way, they are not only learning but they are also contributing to the ongoing success of their school.

Empower girls through education

At the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, girls and women receive training opportunities and learn about the important role they play in society and the community. The microfinance program funded by UNHCR and Caritas Italiana offers graduates, women and other refugees an opportunity to establish small business ventures using skills learned.

The microfinance program is not currently active. The refugees that were enrolled into these programs have resettled back to respected countries. (Per Fr. George, Director for Office of Development in Kenya)

Feed Hungry Children

In Kenya, malnutrition rates are critical and in some districts, a quarter of all children are acutely malnourished, according to UNICEF.

At Salesian Missions centers, nutritious meals are part of a comprehensive program for vulnerable children. In addition to food, they receive shelter, counseling and education to help rebuild their lives. To date, nearly 2,000 street children have been served with a focus on long-term success. Today, there are nine boys studying at university and 64 working in various companies. Others are beginning their studies in primary and secondary schools – and still more are waiting to join the successful “Bosco Boys” program.

Build Youth Centers

In Kenya, homeless youth join “Bosco Boys” programs dedicated to creating positive change. These centers include a wide range of activities for youth, including:

  • Bosco Scouts: Fifty boys and girls enjoy camp, build leadership skills and help maintain discipline with the other children.
  • Young Journalists: Youth publish “The Eye Opener” magazine for students and staff.
  • We Care Club: Students focus on taking care of the property, as well as the houses.
  • Environment Club: Members take care of a nursery and plants – watering, weeding and nurturing.

Through these and other activities, youth are empowered to learn new skills and seek new opportunities.

Teach Leadership Skills to Youth

As part of the “Empowerment Programme,” youth obtain training in life skills and effective leadership to prepare them to be tomorrow’s leaders and citizens. The program also seeks to improve the link between training employment – enhancing the opportunities for youth. This program is part of the vocational/ jobs skills training program that is being implemented in Kenya.

The Salesian life skills training curriculum incorporate life skills and human development into all of their training programs, so that students not only leave with job skills, but also with self-esteem, confidence, and self-respect, thereby increasing the likelihood that they will succeed in improving their lives. This is somewhat unique to the Salesian preventive education system.

Teach Agriculture Skills

In Kenya, agricultural training has made a significant difference at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. There, food security is enhanced by the demonstration farm which enables training in agriculture skills. It also produces fresh fruit and vegetables which improve the amount of food available to the refugees and inhabitants of the camp.

Agricultural skills are also an important component at the Bosco Boys Kuwinda facility. There, students receive training with livestock including poultry, cows and pigs, as well as in the vegetable gardens. Eggs and meat are sold from the farm to help support the project. All the milk produced is consumed by the community. In 2004, a donor assisted in the set-up of a bio-gas plant using cow dung.

Provide Disaster Relief

The government of Kenya has declared the country’s devastating drought a national disaster, with an estimated 2.7 million people in urgent need of emergency food as a result of lack of rain and a worsening water shortage. Salesian missionaries with the Don Bosco Mission in Korr—located in the north central region of Kenya— have been supplying food with limited means. Missionaries are providing milk, corn flour, wheat flour, oil and salt, which must be brought in from the community of Isiolo more than 142 miles away from Korr. Salesian missionaries are also providing access to clean, safe water from boreholes. With food and water supplies running out, our missionaries must rely on donations and financial support to assist with this crisis.

Within the surrounding community of Korr, Salesian missionaries provide five outreach locations, a medical clinic, a nursery and primary school, boarding for both boys and girls, and a youth center as well as a Catholic parish. Our missionaries provide these services as they continue to be challenged by the ongoing drought affecting regions in Kenya which are causing severe food and water insecurity. 

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