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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 168 out of 189 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.

In 2018, a new Salesian elementary school was built in Les Cayes to accommodate more students. The new elementary school, built through the Rinaldi Foundation, welcomed its initial first grade class in September 2018. The school has nine classrooms, student and teacher bathrooms, two computer rooms and administrative offices. Each year 360 children from the area will have the opportunity to access elementary education, which lays the foundation for later study.

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.

At another center, Salesian missionaries with the National School of Arts and Crafts (ENAM) have partnered with Les Cereales d’Haiti, S.A., a mid-sized organization in the grain industry in Port-au-Prince, to develop a 10-month training course for young bakers. This partnership brings the first vocational training school for bakers to Haiti and will allow participants to acquire skills needed for their future employment.

Twenty students, including nine young women, are the first to start the program and performed an exhibition promoting the value of baking at the opening ceremony. During the presentation of the course, it was also noted that the bread industry is a very important sector in the country, enabling intense economic activities at different levels of society and in various areas of the country, both urban and rural. At the end of the training cycle, the country will have professionally-trained bakers.

In addition, the Rinaldi Foundation, the Salesian planning and development office in Haiti, has been funded for the second year to aid young adults—aged 18 to 27—in gaining work experience and finding employment. The project has been made possible through the support of the Community Violence Reduction section of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti.

The project, which received funding for a second year in September 2018, is giving 90 more youth from Port-au-Prince the opportunity to participate in internships and 12 young adults from Cap-Haïtien the chance to launch a new transportation service. Working in conjunction with Lakou Don Bosco and Lakay Don Bosco, both in Port-au-Prince, 90 at-risk young adults were selected to benefit from the program in the first phase of funding. The initial phase of the project placed the youth in three-month internships at 43 different enterprises related to the participants’ previous studies.

At the end of the first phase of the program, 85.5 percent of the participants had an opportunity to earn a living. This included 16 youth who found work after the internship, 43 who are now engaged in small cooperative enterprises and 18 youth who are involved in production work at Lakay Don Bosco.


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.

In 2019, the Salesian Diocesan Center of Arts and Trades in Les Cayes was able to restore its back-up electricity system for the school thanks to Salesian Missions donors. The vocational school lost its back-up electrical system during Hurricane Matthew, a Category 4 hurricane that pummeled Haiti on Oct. 4, 2016. The back-up electrical system is essential to the operation of the school due to Haiti’s unreliable electricity supply and frequent blackouts. With the electrical system restored, the school is sure to have the power needed for the computer lab and classrooms when the city electricity is down.


From Haiti

From Haiti

Haiti: USAID-funded Hunger for Education project feeds 18,161 students at six Salesian centers

Salesian feeding programs are helping youth to stay in school, focus on their studies, and connect with their peers. NEW ROCHELLE, NY (July 11, 2019) Salesian students at six Salesian centers in Haiti received access to better nut

Our Mission in Action for Homeless Youth

Fourteen-year-old Francisco has spent half his life begging for money at a busy intersection in Mozambique. René, 17, once hustled to clean windshields and load trucks in Port-au-Prince, Haiti just so he could eat. And young Juan

GLOBAL: Salesian Missions launched its annual Loaves and Fishes fundraiser to support critical aid shipments to programs around the globe

For every dollar a donor contributes, Salesian Missions is able to ship $14 worth of critical goods to its programs in more than 130 countries around the globe. NEW ROCHELLE, NY (May 16, 2019) Salesian Missions, the U.S. developme

HAITI: Salesian Missions donors provide funding to restore back-up electrical system at the Diocesan Center of Arts and Trades in Les Cayes

The Salesian center now has the power needed for the computer lab and classrooms when the city electricity is down. NEW ROCHELLE, NY (May 10, 2019) The Salesian Diocesan Center of Arts and Trades in Les Cayes, Haiti, has a new bac

HAITI: Salesian Missions provides funding for retaining wall near Salesian-run St. Paul Chapel in Cité Soleil, benefiting more than 200 community members

The newly constructed retaining wall separates the canal from the chapel grounds, protecting it from flooding during times of heavy rains. NEW ROCHELLE, NY (April 23, 2019) Salesian Missions has provided the funding for the Salesi

HAITI: More than 900 beneficiaries across seven Salesian programs have better nutrition thanks to Rise Against Hunger rice-meal donations

The fortified rice-meals are helping youth to focus on their studies and connect with their peers. NEW ROCHELLE, NY (March 22, 2019) More than 900 beneficiaries connected to programs facilitated by Don Bosco Lakay/Lakou have bette

Feeding Starving Street Children around the Globe

Due to ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, recession in Europe, natural disasters in Asia and Africa, and many other factors, more and more children have nowhere else to live but on the street. In more than 130 countries around

Hope for People Arriving at Mexico’s Border

At the height of Central America’s migrant crisis, tens of thousands of people from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras fled to the United States border, desperately seeking refuge from brutal violence and unbearable poverty. In

Partnership with Rise Against Hunger helps provides a hand up – with hand soap

Vulnerable communities in countries including Guatemala, Haiti and Swaziland see significant improvement in the residents’ health after using the soap regularly. NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Sept. 28, 2017) Thanks to an ongoing partnership

Natural Disasters Wreak Havoc

As Hurricane Irma barreled through the Caribbean and toward southern Florida, our missionaries in Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Belle Glade prepared for catastrophic destruction. Thankfully, the Salesian-run pr

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in Haiti

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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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