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The Salesians of Don Bosco began working in Haiti in 1935 in response to the Haitian government’s request for a professional school. Since then, Salesian missionaries have expanded their work to include 10 main educational centers and more than 200 schools across the country. The primary 10 centers each have a number of primary and secondary schools, vocational training centers and other programs for street children and youth in need. Salesian programs are located throughout Haiti, including in the cities of Port-au-Prince, Fort-Liberté, Cap-Haïtien, Les Cayes and Gressier. Today, Salesian missionaries in Haiti are the largest source of education outside of the Haitian government, and their programs serve more than 25,000 Haitian children.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas, ranking 163 out of 188 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index. The country also faces the highest levels of severe food insecurity in the world, according to the World Food Programme. More than half of the country’s population was chronically undernourished during 2012-2014, representing a total of 5.3 million Haitians. Nearly 100,000 Haitian children under the age of 5 suffer from acute malnutrition, causing irreversible stunted growth for close to 30 percent of all children in the country.

More Missions In Haiti

Build primary & secondary schools

Since the arrival of Salesian missionaries in Haiti, building schools has been a priority. Salesian Father Bohnen, a Dutch native, came to Haiti in 1954, and was so touched by the great poverty and the lack of schools in La Saline, he encouraged local school teachers to form little schools for the children. Today, OPEPB, a Salesian development project committed to working for the improved social welfare of marginalized youth, serves more than 18,000 poor youth living in the slums of the Northern Bay of Port-au-Prince each year. OPEPB supports 192 Little Schools and six elementary schools where reading, writing, mathematics, science, music and arts are taught to children ranging in age from 7 to 15 years. These educational centers serve thousands of children every year.

In addition, in 2014, more than 3 million Haitian children returned to school with 200,000 of them educated in Salesian-run institutions. Salesian missionaries are continuing to rebuild their own educational centers and offer support to the country that had 90 percent of schools destroyed during the 2010 earthquake. For Salesian missionaries in the country, schools in Haiti fulfill an important socio-economic mission by providing a foundation of lifelong learning for poor youth and teaching them valuable skills and trades to help them escape poverty and establish a sustainable livelihood. Through donor support and ongoing relief efforts, Salesian missionaries rebuild schools.

Provide technical and vocational training

Salesian-run technical and vocational training centers focus on providing youth with the educational opportunities and social support they need to succeed. In Fort-Liberté, the Don Bosco Technical School accommodates 2,000 youth, preparing them for jobs through traditional and professional training courses in the areas identified as most in need — including hydraulics, masonry, cabinet making, tailoring and administrative work. In Les Cayes, the Salesian-run Diocesan Center of Arts and Trades (CDAM) opened its doors to the poor youth of Haiti in 1983. CDAM provides technical/vocational training for the youth as well as educational and sports programs.

An estimated 340 young people are currently training in agricultural schools and vocational training centers in Cap-Haïtien. Agricultural education provides students with a basic education as well as advanced studies in the latest agricultural practices and modern technologies while moving toward efficiency in farming by exploring and testing new techniques in agriculture, horticulture, floriculture and animal husbandry. The school provides both classroom education and hands-on agriculture and livestock training on a working farm on the school campus.

Respond to disasters and emergencies

Salesian missionaries live in the communities in which they work across Haiti, so they are perfectly positioned to respond in times of crisis, much like they did when the devastating earthquake struck Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010 and again in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

In the initial aftermath of the devastating 2010 earthquake, Salesian missionaries were instrumental in emergency response and relief efforts. An integral part of the infrastructure in Haiti prior to the earthquake, they were among the first responders — providing shelter and medical aid; means to securely transport, store and distribute relief supplies and clean drinking water; and, perhaps most importantly, an understanding of how to get things done in Haiti. Salesian missionaries have continued their relief and reconstruction efforts long after other relief efforts have subsided to help rebuild Haiti and provide support to its people.

Once the immediate danger from the Hurricane Matthew passed, Salesian missionaries launched direct relief efforts. And, because of the leadership role these missionaries assumed in the wake of the 2010 earthquake, they are well positioned to make an immediate impact. With schools and programs throughout Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the response was efficient and comprehensive. Salesian missionaries provided relief kits. Each kit contains rice, beans, salmon, sugar, olive oil, milk and soap to sustain five people for four days per kit. In addition to the food provided, clean water and soap was essential help contain a cholera outbreak.

Build orphanages & shelters for homeless youth

Street children in Port-au-Prince are cared for in the rebuilt Lakay House for Street Children. The Lakay program for street children feeds more than 600 youth every day in Cité Soleil, the poorest slum in Port-au-Prince. This indispensable Salesian-run center provides shelter, education and food to hundreds of street children with nowhere else to turn. The facility was completely destroyed by the earthquake, leaving the children without shelter. Today, Lakay is back in operation and home to nearly 150 former street children in addition to the hundreds of other youth it serves by providing educational opportunities and hope for better futures.

Provide youth centers & safe activities

Salesian sports programs in Haiti focus on youth between 5 and 18 years of age. Students are able to take part in programs that offer recreational activities such as treasure hunts, educational games and sports, and sports-focused workshops that teach the skills needed to play soccer and volleyball. Sports programs teach valuable skills to youth both on and off the field. They offer unlimited opportunities for growth by simultaneously developing leadership, teamwork and social skills.

Improve health services

In Haiti, efforts are always focused on preventing an outbreak of disease — especially helping to stop and prevent cholera. During relief efforts, Salesian missionaries and volunteers distributed water purification tablets for treating water. They also distributed relief kits that contain soap and clean water. In 2014, Salesian Missions received and coordinated a donation from Soapbox Soaps who donated more than 10,000 bars of soap for children and families in need in Haiti to prevent cholera and other disease. Children who take part in Salesian feeding programs also receive education and resources about personal hygiene during school. In addition, Salesian missionaries operate the School of Nursing at Fort-Liberté — one of the only schools of its kind in the country — to help prepare nurses to provide critical medical care in the country.

Provide clean, safe water

In addition to providing clean, safe water during times of disaster like Hurricane Matthew and the 2010 earthquake, Salesian missionaries provide ongoing access to safe water at their local programs. In Les Cayes, the Salesian community has a mini-center that provides purified water to the students and teachers for free. The program also sells the water to the local community to raise funds for the school. During reconstruction of the Salesian Youth Center in Fort-Liberté, Salesian missionaries created a new water purification plant that provides clean, fresh water at affordable prices to residents of surrounding communities. Without it, the local drinking water wouldn’t be suitable for drinking.

Improve infrastructure

In 2015, the reconstruction of a Salesian Youth Center in Fort Liberté, Haiti was completed after the January 12, 2010 earthquake reduced it to rubble. The reconstruction project, made possible by many generous donors, was part of a promise by Salesian Missions to aid in the reconstruction of the country as well as provide relief to Haitians following the earthquake. First opened in 2002, the youth center in Fort Liberté offers a broad range of formal and informal educational programs for local youth. It housed an elementary school, technical school, vocational training center, teacher-training program and one of the country’s only nursing schools.

The reconstruction after the earthquake offered an opportunity to enhance the center’s programs and services beyond their original scope. In addition to simply rebuilding the schools, youth facilities, dorms and missionary housing, a new water purification plant now provides clean, fresh water at affordable prices to residents of surrounding communities. Additionally, the rebuilding of a Salesian Provincial House on the property now includes several large rooms that may be used for and rented out as conference space, providing much-needed income for Salesian programs. All of the newly constructed buildings meet the standards for being earthquake-proof which ensures that funding for the projects has been utilized in a responsible, sustainable way.

In addition, the Salesian-run Rinaldi Foundation of Haiti is engaging in long-term reconstruction efforts after Hurricane Matthew. The Foundation prepared the distribution of building materials for those affected so that they could repair their homes or rebuild them. Missionaries also started distributing seeds and agricultural tools to those who lost their crops and with them their livelihood. About 500 farmers are benefiting from this project, which also allows the resumption of economic activities in selected areas.

With an eye on long-term sustainability and ensuring reconstruction efforts in local communities, the Rinaldi Foundation also planned an education project that provides intensive training for 300 youth in the construction industry including courses in metallurgy, carpentry and welding. Students who might not otherwise be able to continue their studies have access to scholarships.


From Haiti

From Haiti

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HAITI: Salesian Missions launches emergency fundraising campaign to aid relief efforts following Hurricane Matthew

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Funding Opportunities

in Haiti

Agriculture Training Programs

Salesian Missions includes agriculture in its vocational training programs – to ensure that youth of Rwanda learn better agricultural practices as well as keep the school self-sustaining in the face of the country’s food shortages.

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Feed a Child

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Technology Program

Salesian Missions includes agriculture in its vocational training programs – to ensure that youth of Rwanda learn better agricultural practices as well as keep the school self-sustaining in the face of the country’s food shortages.

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