Uganda

Salesian Missions is committed to improving the wellbeing of children and families in Uganda, a country rebuilding after decades of war, as well as facing the serious increase of HIV/AIDS, which left millions of children orphaned.

Nearly 21 percent of the population in Uganda lives below the poverty line, according to the World Bank. This number rises to 33 percent for those living in the northern region where poverty is greatest. Uganda’s literacy rate has improved with 73 percent of the population literate, but only 23 percent of Ugandans go on to acquire a secondary education. According to UNICEF, one of the biggest challenges in the country is combating the serious increase of HIV/AIDS that has left millions of children orphaned.

More Missions In Uganda

Provide technical and vocational training

While approximately 86 percent of Uganda’s 34 million inhabitants make their living farming, more youth are seeking jobs in urban areas often leaving small agricultural plots of land in rural areas uncultivated. Salesian missionaries facilitate an agriculture project on 15 acres of land on the grounds of the Don Bosco Children and Life Mission located in the town of Namugongo, 10 miles northeast of the city of Kampala. The program provides agricultural education to 140 students who are taught new skills while being encouraged to farm the land. Food grown through the program feeds the students and surrounding communities.

With the addition of more quality teachers, the agriculture program continues to expand its training. The goal of the school is to provide young farmers with a basic education as well as advanced studies in the latest agricultural practices and modern technologies while moving towards efficiency in farming by exploring and testing new techniques in agriculture, horticulture, floriculture and animal husbandry.

In addition, construction on a new wing for the Don Bosco Vocational Training Center Namaliga, located in the town of Bombo in central Uganda, was completed thanks to donors from Salesian Missions. The new wing consists of offices for 17 staff members and classrooms for 186 students and will allow for more job training courses in trades such as carpentry, plumbing and tailoring.

The training center already offers a number of courses in construction, electrical installation, electrical repair, electronics, hospitality, tourism, materials development and textiles. Because Salesian missionaries live in the communities in which they work, they are able to develop courses that give students the skills necessary to meet the demands of the local job market. The goal is to help each student transition out of the classroom directly into work.

Respond to refugee needs

Salesian missionaries at Don Bosco Palabek, within the Palabek Refugee Settlement, are providing much needed psycho-social support and pastoral care for thousands of Christian residents. They also operate four nursery schools that educated 743 students in 2019 with 222 graduating at the end of the year. Currently, there are 521 students in the four kindergartens. Salesian missionaries also started the Child Sponsorship program in 2019 with 63 refugee students, providing the financial support for them to attend primary, secondary and vocational schools.

Uganda has become home for more than 1.3 million refugees—82 percent of whom are women and children—in the wake of the ongoing conflict in South Sudan, according to the UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency. Millions have fled South Sudan and nearly 400,000 have died as a result of armed clashes. Many of those who have fled to Uganda have taken refuge at the Palabek Refugee Settlement in northern Uganda.

According to UNHCR, Palabek is currently home to nearly 46,000 refugees and asylum seekers. It was officially set up in April 2016 to reduce congestion in larger refugee camps in the northwestern corner of Uganda. Several agencies are involved in providing food and education within Palabek.

Helping to ensure refugees are learning skills for employment, Salesian missionaries also operate a vocational training center to offer life skills and other training. Depending on the discipline, some courses run for 3-6 months while others run as long as a year. Salesian missionaries have also set up a job placement office that helps students make contact with companies that are hiring, prepare resumes and prep for interviews, and find internships and on-site training opportunities.

The vocational training center educated 230 students in 2019 with193 students completing their courses and graduating by the end of the year. Young women graduated from courses in tailoring and salon services such as hairdressing. Young men studied automobile mechanics, motorcycle repair training and solar installation. Agriculture classes are also taught to all students no matter their primary area of study.

To further ensure refugees can earn a living, Salesian missionaries are helping refugees with saving and lending with 20 village savings groups formed and eight farmers groups that were provided seeds and farm tools within the settlement. Men, women and youth are engaged in the village savings groups.

Through saving meetings, key issues like gender-based violence prevention, business strategy, farming and nutrition, and other topics were discussed. Most of the members have appreciated the approach because they are able to share important information with each other for the benefit of individuals, their families and the community at large. Through the group formation and interventions at the zone level (neighborhoods) of the settlement, there is peace.

Provide youth centers and safe activities

At Don Bosco Children and Life Mission located just outside of Kampala, more than 200 at-risk boys ages 8 to 17 receive a wide range of services. The program offers primary, secondary and technical education along with special programs. Here, Salesian missionaries launched the Don Bosco Band for at-risk youth in the region. Music lessons were brought to the school after Salesian missionaries started a new initiative teaching a small group of students to play the trumpet. Many of the children attending the primary school wanted to learn and enrolled in the program. Soon a small class turned to more than 50 children.

The new music program was so successful that the number of musicians and the number of trumpets utilized increased until soon they were able to form a school band. Initially, the course was only on Sundays and lasted two hours. Some of the children that were learning the music liked it so much that they started to teach their friends the best way to play the trumpet. By the end of the school year so many students were learning that they were able to take part in a concert along with older and more experienced students.

As the students continued to make progress and their repertoire expanded, the band became increasingly skilled and other instruments were added. Today, the Don Bosco Band currently consists of a series of trumpets, trombones, tubas, a French horn, flutes, clarinets, drums, bass drums, cymbals and a saxophone. Salesian missionaries provide the instruments and the instruction as part of their overall educational program. The goal is for youth to develop their talents, gain self-confidence and enjoy the activity with their peers. The band is made up exclusively of students of the school and occasionally gives concerts to demonstrate the progress of the students.

Deliver life-saving meals

Nearly 1,700 youth at Salesian schools in Uganda had better nutrition thanks to Rise Against Hunger, an international humanitarian organization growing a global movement to end hunger. More than 600 youth at Don Bosco Children and Life Mission (Don Bosco CALM) received fortified rice-meals provided by Rise Against Hunger, as well as nearly 700 students at the Don Bosco School Bombo and 380 students at the Salesian vocational schools in Bombo and Kamuli.

Don Bosco CALM rescues, rehabilitates and reintegrates children who are living on the street back into society. Along with meeting basic needs, Salesians provide education, socio-cultural activities, and recreation such as sports programming to help youth have a bright future.

Respond to disasters & emergencies

Salesian missionaries living and working at Palabek Refugee Resettlement Camp have been able to provide food aid to 800 people at the camp in November 2020, thanks to funding from Salesian Missions. Additional funding provided food, blankets and other supplies for people with disabilities.

Even before COVID-19, living conditions in Palabek were not easy. Food distribution was scarce and there were difficulties in accessing drinking water. With the arrival of the pandemic, everything has become even more complicated. The amount of food delivered to refugees once a month has been reduced by 30 percent, classes and activities were suspended, and episodes of violence, alcoholism and teenage pregnancies began. The UNHCR warns that unless urgent action is taken to address the situation, levels of acute malnutrition, stunting and anemia are expected to rise, especially among children.

Deliver essential equipment & supplies

Students attending Don Bosco Primary School, part of Don Bosco Children and Life Mission (Don Bosco CALM), received new school uniforms, sports uniforms and school supplies thanks to donor funding. The 200 children, ages 5-13, were from families most in need. They could not afford to buy their children new school uniforms or the school supplies to take part in educational activities.

In 2022, Salesian missionaries at Don Bosco CALM received funding for five dairy cows thanks to a partnership between Salesian Missions and the DD Lynch Family Foundation.  With the funding, Salesians bought the cows to provide milk for children in the program. Four of the cows are now pregnant. An earlier donation by the DD Lynch Family Foundation provided the funding for a modern cowshed so the cows are living in good conditions and are cared for by a veterinary doctor and a full-time shepherd.

Improve health services

Salesian Missions is committed to improving the wellbeing of children and families in Uganda, a country rebuilding after decades of war. It is also facing the serious increase of HIV/AIDS cases which has left millions of children orphaned. Recently, Salesian Missions donors provided the Don Bosco Children and Life Mission the funding to support a Salesian program that helps children living in poverty who are HIV positive.

The funding is providing educational courses, medical treatment, medicines and nutritional meals for youth living with HIV/AIDS. These youth are also eligible to receive counseling, recreation opportunities, medical observation and critical antiretroviral therapy treatments (ART). The Salesian program has been particularly effective because youth are able to study and build peer relationships in a safe and supportive environment free from the stigma and rejection they previously encountered.

Improve infrastructure

Thanks to funding Salesian Missions received from a generous donor, two new kindergarten classrooms have been built at the Salesian-run St. Joseph Primary School Namaliga, in the town of Bombo in central Uganda. The initial project, which was launched in 2015, called for one new classroom. But after an assessment of student enrollment, it was decided that two classrooms were needed, and it was more efficient and economical to build two classrooms at the same time.

During the 2015-2016 school year, 170 children were enrolled at the primary school with the number expected to rise. Before the project was launched, the two existing kindergarten classes at the elementary school were filled beyond capacity. The crowded classrooms made it challenging for students to learn and difficult for teachers to provide the individual attention students need most. In addition, the limited space reduced the number of new students the school could accept.

In addition, Giacomo Comino, a Salesian missionary living in Fossano, a town in the Piedmont region of northern Italy, has launched a new project to help support refugees in the Palabek Refugee Settlement in northern Uganda. Comino’s goal is to help refugees better learn a trade and have the equipment necessary to do so. Often, students at the refugee settlement do not have the tools to practice their trade or make necessary repairs. Comino is aiming to change that by sending boxes of metal, computers, mixers, shovels, spades and even a forklift that will be used to lift loads.

Comino envisions refugees being able to set up small workshops so they can continue expanding their technical skills in their chosen trade in order to begin earning a living. The goal is to grant refugees the dignity of earning a living and supporting themselves and their community.

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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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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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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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