Salesian Missions in Ethiopia is helping children with nowhere else to turn. The country has 4 million orphans — which is 12 percent of the world’s total. The country’s AIDS epidemic has exacerbated already challenging conditions. More than half a million children have lost their parents to the deadly disease. One in three Ethiopians live in poverty, causing thousands of runaway children to seek a better life on the streets of the cities.

In Ethiopia, recent severe droughts have left already vulnerable populations with nowhere to turn. Ethiopia’s level of child malnutrition is the highest in the world. The country ranks 174 out of 188 countries in the United Nations Development Program’s 2015 Human Development Index.

Salesian missionaries are responding to one of Ethiopia’s most pressing challenges — abandoned, runaway and at-risk youth who are struggling to build their lives. Recognizing the harsh realities facing homeless and malnourished youth on the streets, Salesian programs are tailored to meet their most basic needs along with providing education to help them lead happy, productive lives.

More Missions In Ethiopia

Build primary & secondary schools

In Ethiopia, Salesian missionaries’ primary focus is on the education of poor youth. They accomplish this through the operation of six primary schools, three secondary schools and six vocational training centers for older youth. At all these Salesian-run educational facilities, youth are able to gain an education while having access to support services. These include family sponsorship and school feeding programs that provide care for them and their families — all with the goal of keeping youth in school as long as possible. In Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa, a Salesian Center provides a variety of programs designed to instill confidence and self-respect to approximately 750 at-risk youth. The Center features dormitories, classrooms, a recreation hall and cafeteria, and serves hundreds of poor youth by providing for their most basic needs of food and shelter.

Provide technical & vocational training

With the assistance of International Volunteers for Development (VIS), Don Bosco Technical and Professional Training at Mekanissa, near Addis Ababa, offers a training program in graphic and typographic arts. The graphic and printing industry is very important and growing in the Ethiopian labor market.

The project, known as “Print your future,” is already resulting in an increase of the professionalism of Salesian students in the workforce and is helping to promote the Salesian program as a real educational opportunity for older youth. The Salesian program is the first in graphic and typographic arts to be offered in Ethiopia and is an example of the importance of the Salesian presence in the capital city.

Operate colleges & universities

Salesian missionaries in Ethiopia held a management course for 30 Salesian teachers and management staff to aid in their professional development. The course was funded in part by Salesian Missions. The training focused on increasing the knowledge base of Salesian missionaries and lay staff to continue to meet the objective detailed in the National Technical & Vocational Education and Training Strategy designed by the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Ministry of Education.

The course touched on subjects related to the proper management of human, material and financial resources of the educational centers needed to meet new challenges faced by teachers in the education of young Ethiopians. No educational institution can succeed without the provision of highly qualified and motivated teachers and management staff. One of the biggest challenges in Ethiopia is having highly-qualified teachers in the classroom and people with the appropriate level skill leading the technical and vocational training institutions, which provide the skills necessary for youth to find and retain stable employment.

Salesian teachers face many challenges educating poor youth. Many of their students have faced severe poverty and often lack basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter. Some were previously living and working on the streets, and others have faced war as child soldiers or become refugees in war-torn communities. Salesian teachers meet these challenges head on, providing education and hope for a brighter future.

Build orphanages & shelters for homeless youth

Ethiopia is home to more than four million orphans, or 12 percent, of all children globally. More than half a million of these were orphaned as a result of AIDS, according to UNICEF. The CARING Orphans and Vulnerable Children project in Ethiopia is funded by USAID to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia.

The program increases access to youth orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS, and provides holistic care, community reintegration, and support for 60,000 orphans, street youth and children. To date, more than 13,000 orphans and vulnerable children have received services ranging from shelter and care, formal education, non-formal education and economic empowerment activities. More than a quarter of these youth have been reintegrated with their extended families.

Empower girls & women through education

In Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa, a Salesian center provides a variety of programs designed to instill confidence and self-respect to approximately 750 at-risk youth. Salesian sisters arrived in the city more than 20 years ago. They began working with poor children and young women and opened a school. Young students attend basic elementary school classes while women are able to access two training courses in computers and sewing. The students attend classes for two years and then must pass a national exam to receive their certificates. The center also features dormitories, classrooms, a recreation hall and a cafeteria, and serves hundreds of poor youth by providing for their most basic needs of food and shelter.

Respond to disasters & emergencies

Ethiopia has been experiencing the worst drought the country has seen in more than 50 years. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced that agricultural assistance for the rainy season in Ethiopia is essential to help the drought-affected people as one of the strongest El Niño events on record continues to have devastating effects on the lives and livelihoods of farmers and herders.

Salesian missionaries and volunteers with the International Volunteers for Development (VIS) have been concerned that the devastating drought is forcing residents to flee the country making them vulnerable to illegal migration (particularly to Europe and the Middle East), exploitation and human traffickers who are already taking advantage of the crisis. Using deep wells built by VIS volunteers in recent years, Salesian missionaries and volunteers continue to distribute water to schools, hospitals and first aid clinics, centers for street children, women’s refuges and diocesan centers. The goal is to continue to support the 12,000 residents of the Somali, Tigray and Oromia regions and those living in the south.

Respond to refugee needs

Salesian missionaries at the Pugnido Refugee Camp, the oldest refugee camp in the Gambella Region of western Ethiopia, work with poor youth and their families to provide education and social development services. The camp is home to some 60,000 refugees, the majority of whom are escaping violence and conflict within South Sudan.

Since 2006, the Salesian Pugnido mission has grown and developed to better meet the needs of the growing refugee population and those living in the surrounding area. The mission now includes 10 outreach stations and a few chapels inside the refugee camp that provide assistance, education, pastoral care and social development services. The goal is to ensure that youth have their most basic needs met so they are able to focus on gaining an education and the skills needed to find and retain stable employment. Youth in the programs also volunteer and help with younger children, as well as participate in the Catholic Mass.

Provide youth centers & safe activities

The Bosco Children Project in Addis Ababa provides supportive and educational services to boys who are orphaned or live on the street. The program — although stretched financially — provides an outreach orientation center and a hostel.

The Bosco Children Project has established a new orientation program called “Come and See” which serves close to 30 boys who are living on the streets. Every morning the boys are picked up by bus and taken to the center. At the center, boys work, play sports and attend classes where they learn to read and write. They also receive life skills training on social morality, civic responsibility, hygiene and professional ethics. In the evening, the boys return to the streets. The goal is to provide boys with enough information and support to help them make the decision to enroll in the three-year regular education course offered by the program.

Provide clean, safe water

Salesian missionaries across the country have been working to construct wells and improve sanitation. The construction of a simple well improves the health of residents, increases agricultural production and leads to a better quality of life for families, especially for girls and women. Women and children often bear the primary responsibility for water collection in the majority of households and globally, spend 140 million hours a day collecting water. Children in communities without access to local wells are forced to walk for hours to collect drinking water — water that often proves contaminated and seriously sickens those who consume it. Many others are unable to attend school regularly because they must spend time searching for distant wells.

Using deep wells previously built by members of Volontariato Internazionale per lo Sviluppo (VIS), an Italian-based NGO (and financed in part by the Salesian Missions Clean Water Initiative), missionaries and volunteers have been able to deliver up to 20,000 liters daily in times of crisis to schools, hospitals and first aid clinics, centers for street children and refugee camps.

Salesian well projects in Ethiopia utilize construction techniques compatible with cultural traditions, practices and customs of the region, and use locally sourced materials. The new wells improve sanitation and provide safe drinking water and water for agriculture and food production.

Deliver life-saving meals

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has reported that humanitarian needs in the country have tripled since the beginning of 2015 as the drought has led to successive crop failures and widespread livestock deaths. According to the United Nations, agricultural production in the affected regions has fallen by 50 to 90 percent and the Ethiopian government has declared a state of emergency. As a result, food insecurity and malnutrition rates are alarming in the country with FAO reporting that some 10.2 million people are now food insecure. One-quarter of all districts in Ethiopia are officially classified as facing a food security and nutrition crisis.

At Salesian-run educational facilities across Ethiopia, youth have access to school feeding programs which help of keep them in school as long as possible.


From Ethiopia

From Ethiopia

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