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

Through Salesian programs, missionaries help young people take responsibility for their own lives and train them in the skills necessary to find and retain employment in order to support themselves and improve their communities. In addition to providing hope through education, Salesian missionaries are responding to the urgent needs of the increasing refugee crisis and the life-threatening drought facing much of Africa.

More Missions In Kenya

Provide technical & vocational training

The Don Bosco Development Office in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, has a special job placement and career center staffed by job placement officers who work to ensure that students from Salesian educational programs connect effectively with stable employment upon graduation. The center’s role in Salesian educational programs is critical to graduates’ long-term success.

In Kenya, even successful graduates often find it challenging to find employment. Many industries are located in urban areas and many of the newly employed have been forced to seek housing in city slums. Employers also often insist upon past work experience, which many Salesian graduates do not have, such as the refugees from the Kakuma refugee camp who have been unable to work because of the permit required for employment.

Salesian job placement officers work to address all of these challenges. Once a graduate is placed in a job, the job placement officer provides frequent follow-up visits to assess the graduate’s progress and to help solve any problems. More than 75 percent of Salesian graduates accessing job placement and career center services connect with meaningful work within six months of graduation.

Rescue children facing adversity

The Salesian-run Bosco Boys program provides education and technical skills training to former street children in Nairobi and serves more than 600 boys and girls at primary and secondary schools and universities. The program also operates two nursery schools in the slums of Kariua and Kuwinda.

Youth living in Nairobi’s slums are at risk for exploitation, forced labor and other abuses. Few attend the later stages of school as compared to those living in Kenya’s more rural areas. The few schools serving this disadvantaged community are beyond the financial means of most families. The Bosco Boys program provides education and workforce development opportunities. Students in the program who complete their primary education are assisted with secondary education or are advised to choose technical training in sister institutions. The secondary education is most often provided at Don Bosco Technical Secondary School, Embu, but can also be at other schools close to students’ homes where they can be easily monitored.

Respond to disasters & emergencies

As a catastrophic drought continues to worsen and spread in Kenya, the government has declared a national disaster. With livestock and agricultural crops wiped out, millions of men, women and children literally teeter on the brink of starvation. With the generous support of donors, Salesian missionaries at Don Bosco Korr continue to do what they can to assist.

According to local news reports, food prices continue to skyrocket, shooting up more than 20 percent. Having relied heavily on subsistence farming before the drought, and with few other employment opportunities available, there is literally no way for people to even purchase food.

Undeterred by these challenges, Salesian missionaries have developed a plan to improve the nutritional intake of Korr’s most vulnerable—the children—and bring clean water to the entire community. They propose to do this by drilling a new borehole equipped with a solar-powered pump in a central location and installing four new water tanks to hold the water. They also plan to install water tanks and water harvesting systems at four community schools. They will distribute fortified meals to 500 severely malnourished children daily through the Salesian-run dispensary and will provide an additional 2,815 girls and boys attending eight primary schools with lunch every day.

Build orphanages & shelters for homeless youth

The Salesian-run Bosco Boys program provides education and technical skills training to former street children in Nairobi and is currently serving more than 600 boys and girls at primary and secondary schools and universities.

At Bosco Boys programs, homeless and at-risk youth join 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.

Respond to refugee needs

Kakuma refugee camp was established in 1992 near Kenya’s border with South Sudan and was a place of safety for unaccompanied minors fleeing warring factions in what was then southern Sudan. Today, Kakuma has more than 180,000 refugees, well over the 120,000-person capacity for which it was built. More than 44 percent of the refugees at the camp are from South Sudan and arrived after fleeing the country to escape conflict and violence.

Kakuma is operated by the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) in collaboration with 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, health care, clean water and sanitation. Salesian missionaries at Kakuma refugee camp operate the Holy Cross Parish and the Don Bosco Vocational Training Center where over 1,000 young men and women are receiving critical employment and life skills. There are many courses available and those studying welding, carpentry and bricklaying often utilize their new skills to help build infrastructure within the camp. Salesian missionaries are in the process of building a new school on a donated plot of land at the refugee camp in order to meet the growing demand.

Provide clean, safe water

Residents in Kenya face water and sanitation shortages with 17.5 million people lacking safe water and 31.7 million lacking access to sanitation services, according to There is only a small percentage of the country’s land that is optimal for agriculture and the year-round climate is predominantly arid. Kenya’s water shortage results in a large population of women and children spending up to one-third of their day transporting water in the hot sun from the nearest fresh water source. In addition to exposure to the elements and risk of attack by predators, women and children are also the most susceptible to water-borne diseases.

Salesian missionaries across Kenya are dedicated to ensuring that access to safe water is a priority in Salesian-run programs and schools and in the communities in which they operate. To address the need for clean, safe water, a water borehole project was completed at the Salesian-run Bosco Boys community in Nairobi. The project was made possible thanks to the generosity of donors and entailed removing all the pipes and the electric pump in an existing 250-meter borehole, cleaning the pipes, replacing rotten ones and removing a massive amount of mud. The restoration project ensures proper function of a well on the property while providing clean, safe water for students and faculty at Bosco Boys.

Deliver life-saving meals

Salesian Missions launched an emergency fundraising effort to support missionaries assisting people affected by severe drought in Kenya. While the rain provides some water to local villages, it was not enough to help food production or to adequately help the local people. Salesian missionaries rely on donations and financial support to assist with this crisis.

In early 2017, Salesian missionaries provided food aid kits containing 11 pounds of maize, 4.5 pounds of beans and half a quart of oil to nearly 3,500 families. A total of 65 villages received food. In addition, 110 children were provided milk in the village of Lengima. One of the biggest challenges since the drought began is the lack of food available in the market; the little that is available has risen in price to the point where it’s no longer affordable. The value of livestock has also decreased and many have died or are very weak.

Salesian missionaries within the Don Bosco Mission-Korr work on a daily basis to reach the 85 villages near the mission, sometimes requiring missionaries to travel distances of more than 90 miles to reach the villages. With the recent rains, transport and communications were interrupted and some of the villages have not been able to be reached. Missionaries are waiting for additional funding for relief supplies and then will continue their aid distribution to some of these far away villages. The goal is to support 4,805 families in total.

Improve health services

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. Salesian missionaries provide these services as they continue to be challenged by the ongoing drought affecting regions in Kenya causing severe food and water insecurity.

In Kenya, peer education is an effective tool for reaching youth with key disease prevention messages. As part of the U.S. 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; orphan and vulnerable children centers; and community/social outreach programs. More than 40,000 youth have learned about HIV/AIDS prevention through the program.

Improve infrastructure

The Don Bosco Foundation of East Africa partnered with Schneider Electric to renovate an electrical lab at the Don Bosco Boys Town Technical Institute in Nairobi. This project is part of an overall agreement between Schneider Electric and the Salesian Don Bosco Foundation of East Africa to renovate three Don Bosco training centers in Kenya.

Each year, the Don Bosco Foundation helps support vocational training for 200 underprivileged youth at three Salesian centers in Nairobi, Makuyu and Embu. As part of this agreement, Schneider Electric is providing financial and technical support to renovate the electricity labs at the three centers and launch a solar energy training module.

The company will also help local trainers update their skills and manage the new equipment through Schneider Electric Teachers, a nonprofit that allows employees to share their skills with underprivileged populations on a volunteer basis. Schneider Electric will also help the Don Bosco Foundation obtain government approval for its solar energy training in Kenya.


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WORLD DAY AGAINST TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS: Salesian Missions highlights programs that educate youth to decrease risk of trafficking

Salesian missionaries in more than 130 countries work both to prevent human trafficking and to care for victims. NEW ROCHELLE, NY (July 30, 2022) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins hum

WORLD REFUGEE DAY: Salesian Missions highlights educational and social programs that aid refugees

The 2022 theme is ‘Whoever. Wherever. Whenever. Everyone has the right to seek safety.’ NEW ROCHELLE, NY (June 20, 2022) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizatio

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF RURAL WOMEN: Salesian Missions highlights programs that educate and empower rural women

This year’s theme is ‘Building rural women’s resilience in the wake of COVID-19.’ NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Oct. 15, 2021)  Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizatio

WORLD TEACHERS’ DAY: Salesian Missions highlights teacher training programs that support teachers around the globe

Salesian missionaries educate more than 1 million youth in more than 130 countries. NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Oct. 5, 2021) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and co

GLOBAL: Funding supports most vulnerable during pandemic with food and prevention measures

Salesian Missions funds COVID-19-related projects to provide nutritional support and prevention measures in countries around the globe. NEW ROCHELLE, NY (June 2, 2021) When the global COVID-19 pandemic struck and countries began l

A Missionary’s Dream Paves the Way for Nairobi’s Youth

When Father Sean McFarran founded Don Bosco Boys Town in Nairobi, he hoped to inspire marginalized youth in Kenya to look beyond their circumstances; maybe even to encourage a few to seek secondary education. He likely never imagi

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: Salesian programs help young women and girls become leaders

Salesian Missions highlights the educational programs around the globe that help young women and girls become leaders in their communities. NEW ROCHELLE, NY (March. 8, 2021) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Sales

WORLD TEACHERS’ DAY: Salesian Missions highlights education and support programs for teachers around the globe

Educational initiatives in Ghana, India, Kenya and Nepal illustrate the work of Salesians around the globe that highlights this year’s theme of teachers leading during a crisis.   NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Oct. 5, 2020) Salesian Missio

(Global Sisters Report) Bringing Catholic social teaching to boys recovering from street life

NAIROBI, Kenya Aug. 11, 2020 (Excerpt) Kartel is from Umoja slum in Nairobi. Another social worker and I found this 4-year old at a garbage dump site, shivering with cold. We took him to the hospital and then looked for his sole c

GLOBAL: More children at risk of life-threatening malnutrition due to COVID-19, says new global report

Salesian Missions is fighting hunger around the globe through nutrition projects supported by partners to provide ongoing food relief. NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Aug. 7, 2020) Worldwide, an additional 6.7 million children under the age of

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