Visit the Prisoners: An Act of Mercy in the Philippines
Since 2010, Salesian missionaries in the Philippines have conducted an innovative program on behalf of youth in legal trouble. From the day it opened, the “Magone Home Aftercare Program” has already accomplished remarkable success.
Located in the Don Bosco Boys’ Home and Training Center in Cebu, this 24-hour residential program enrolls boys and young men who have previously been incarcerated or ordered to perform community service for their crimes. The goal is to prepare them for independence, and to facilitate their gradual reintegration as productive members of society.
“This program has been a natural complement to the work our missionaries have already been doing in the Philippines for more than 30 years,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions. “Wherever poverty and lack of opportunity exist, so does the potential for youth to make poor choices, or fall into bad behavior. We are determined not to abandon these boys by providing them with the right services and support for a brighter future.”
The Magone Home Help Team, as staff are known, is comprised of 2 social workers, 2 psychologists, 2 teachers, and 2 house parents. Together, they supervise no more than 20 residential youth each year, and serve an additional 20 youth living in the community. Through traditional education, technical training opportunities, sports, life-skills coaching, counseling and more, these youth are turning their lives around.
In fact, as of July 2016, more than 129 youth have passed through the program. Of those, 73 have successfully re-joined society, with 37 (51 percent) having found paid employment, 45 (62 percent) living with their families, and 24 (33 percent) living independently.
In recognition of these positive strides, the Social Welfare Department of the Philippines has declared this Salesian program a model of best-practice re-integration. They have also encouraged private institutions and other governmental and non-governmental organizations serving children in conflict with the law, to replicate the program.
“The Magone Home embodies the mercy act of ‘visiting the prisoners,’” says Fr. Mark. “And in this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, it is promising to see how former offenders, given a second chance, can truly thrive.”
Our mission gives hope and opportunities to young people who have made mistakes, and who have broken the law, by giving them a chance to be contributing members of society. What’s your mission?