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Madagascar

Madagascar

Salesian programs focus on improving the lives of children and youth through educational opportunities in Madagascar, which is one of the poorest countries of the world.

Nine in ten people in Madagascar live in poverty as do 82 percent of the country’s children under the age of 18. Political turmoil and natural disasters have contributed to the economic crisis. With 60 percent of the population under the age of 25, improving the lives of people in Madagascar depends on improving opportunities for its youth.

More Missions In Madagascar

Provide technical & vocational training

With 60 percent of its population under the age of 25 — and where almost 6 million youth live in dire poverty — Madagascar’s future depends upon opportunities for youth to become self-sufficient adults. However, even when youth can afford vocational training, many schools lack the resources to give youth practical training they need for success in the workforce.

To overcome these difficult barriers, Salesian missionaries have partnered with other humanitarian organizations to create a new, innovative program focused on employment opportunities for youth in the construction and civil engineering sector. The program includes specific recruitment efforts by Salesian missionaries in highly disadvantaged areas, along with an accelerated one-year program to quickly give youth their first professional opportunities.

At the Salesian Vocational Training Center in Antananarivo, students learn in-demand trades such as carpentry and civil engineering. Targeted apprenticeship programs ensure they graduate with the real-word experience that employers find invaluable.

Salesian education also works to close the digital divide, the gap between those with access to technology and those without, which is particularly apparent in Madagascar. Because of a lack of funding and limited access to technology, many youth have had no training in technology, including basic computer and Internet skills. Youth with no technical knowledge or training are severely limited in their ability to compete in the job market and rise out of poverty.

Salesians collaborated with Computer Scientists Without Borders, an organization formed by professional information technology volunteers, and Monclick, one of the leading online sellers of technology products, on a “Back to School” campaign. As a result, new equipment including 15 notebooks, one projector and one multifunction printer were purchased and teachers were given access to new technology training that they in turn pass along to their students.

Volunteers from Computer Scientists Without Borders trained the teachers, most of whom had no experience using a computer, in basic computer skills in addition to teaching them how to utilize the new equipment.

Respond to disasters & emergencies

Madagascar is among the ten countries most vulnerable to natural disasters. A quarter of the population — 5 million people — live in areas highly prone to cyclones, floods or drought, according to the World Food Programme.

In 2015, Tropical Storm Chedza hit Madagascar, creating a massive deluge that wiped out rice paddies and cornfields. Secondary mudslides leveled houses, blocked major roads and contaminated wells. Close to 53,000 people were homeless and faced the threat of widespread disease in the absence of clean drinking water. Salesian missionaries distributed food, medicine, fresh water and clothing in the aftermath, while preparing to rebuild their destroyed communities. Because Salesian missionaries live in the communities in which they work, they can immediately respond to disaster while helping to lead the long, slow process of complete recovery.

Improve health services

Over 60 percent of Madagascar’s people live more than 3 miles from a health center, often in very remote and difficult to reach areas without roads or communications, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

In Madagascar, Salesian missionaries opened medical dispensaries to provide health services to anyone who need it. Missionaries are able to assess medical concerns, provide exams and medications when needed, and connect people to larger hospitals when needed.

Deliver life-saving meals

Madagascar has the world’s fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition, which affects almost half of all children under the age of 5, according to the World Food Programme (WFP). In September 2016, a joint assessment by the Ministry of Agriculture, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the WFP found that 1.2 million people from the south are food insecure, with 600,000 severely food insecure.

To stop the devastating effects of hunger and food insecurity, Salesian Missions partners with Feed My Starving Children and Rise Against Hunger to deliver life-saving food and other critical aid. Homeless children and at-risk youth in Salesian-run orphanages, youth centers and schools are fed, giving them more energy to participate fully in educational programs and activities.

Build orphanages & shelters for homeless youth

In Madagascar, severe poverty without hope for the future forces many youth to leave school and their homes to live on the street, with or without their families. Some youth and their families are forced to flee local communities in the countryside that have been devastated by bandits. While hoping to pursue a better life in the city, youth and their families find themselves without a home, work or school. In some cases, youth also face abandonment by their parents or escape from abuse in their homes to live on the street.

Salesian centers meet the needs of youth and their families. The Centre of Anjanamasina hosts 110-115 boys, including abandoned street children. Young people receive meals, participate in activities and sports, and have safe place to live. In other programs, both families and children are served with literacy classes andentry to public schools, along with services for street children, single mothers and distressed families.

Empower girls & women through education

More than 25 percent of women in Madagascar become first-time mothers between the ages of 15 and 19, often trapping them and their children in a cycle of poverty. These women and children are particularly vulnerable to poor health care, chronic malnutrition, and lack of educational opportunities.

Through projects like TAIZA, a Salesian-led children’s right network present in each borough in the capital city of Antananarivo, young, impoverished mothers and their babies can access social services, as well as health education and clinics, and participate in peer support groups and literacy programs.

Rescue children facing adversity

Salesian missionaries in the capital city of Antananarivo provide services to more than 110 boys in the detention home of Anjanamasina. The program, which is often referred to as the “House of Rascals,” is far beyond capacity, originally built and structured to accommodate 60 to 70 youth. There are often not enough provisions for all the youth being held there. For instance, the program only has enough rice to feed 80, and in the winter, there are not enough blankets for every boy.

Some of the minors in the program have been prosecuted by the law while others are children whose families can no longer take care of them. In Madagascar, unemployment and economic and socio-political challenges cause many families to consider the education of their children secondary when compared with providing food and meeting the needs of everyday life. Often children are abandoned as many parents prefer to entrust them to the detention home rather than taking care of them themselves. Salesian missionaries are working to ensure these youth have a second chance at a better life.

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From Madagascar

From Madagascar

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