Author: Salesian Missions

Publication Date: March 06, 2024

A Silver Jubilee of Hope

Creativity. Independence. Love, patience and kindness. At Don Bosco Fambul’s Child Care Center in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Salesian missionaries nurture the first two qualities with an abundance of the other three. And brighter futures blossom because of it—as our own Father Gabriel Stawowy witnessed first-hand.

Fr. Gabriel traveled to Freetown this past December to participate in Don Bosco Fambul’s 25th anniversary celebration. There, he toured the visionary programs and facilities that have transformed the lives of so many vulnerable youth and families throughout the years.

Originally founded in 1998 specifically to rescue and rehabilitate child soldiers recruited to fight in Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war, Don Bosco Fambul itself has evolved into a multifaceted organization focused on preparing at-risk youth for employment and life. In addition to the Child Care Center, Don Bosco Fambul includes a designated girls’ shelter; a hospital; a mental health and trauma therapy center; a youth center and recreational fields; primary and secondary schools; and a technical education center. Additional programs include a highly acclaimed ministry at Pademba Prison; a mobile outreach team known as Don Bosco on Wheels; and more.

“Missionaries take a comprehensive, whole-child approach to their work,” explains Fr. Gabriel, newly appointed assistant director of Salesian Missions. “First, by meeting basic needs for shelter and nutrition; then, by adding counseling, education and career guidance. I was so moved to meet the young people who once were homeless and alone, and who now have dreams and plans for the future, thanks to the opportunities and support they’ve discovered.”

“We want to uplift and empower the next generation of leaders in Sierra Leone,” adds Father Piotr Wojnarowski, director of Don Bosco Fambul.

20-year-old “Simo” aspires to be one of them.

Like far too many of Freetown’s children, Simo was born into poverty and despair. No longer able to endure his stepfather’s brutal verbal and physical abuse, the boy escaped to the streets, where—for several frightening years—he begged for food and money, barely scraping by on the kindness of complete strangers.

Simo’s future looked bleak. Then, one of those strangers noticed his plight and brought him to Don Bosco Fambul’s Child Care Center—where his journey away from the streets first began.

Simo initially completed a rehabilitation and family reunification program. Sadly, his stepfather refused to open his heart or his home. But our missionaries’ love, patience and kindness lifted Simo’s spirits and secured his resolve. Today, the young man is training to be a metal worker in Don Bosco Fambul’s technical education center. Not only is he a fast learner, reports Fr. Gabriel, but he is also a positive role model for his peers—stepping up to install a new roof on the chapel, repair the iron fencing around the recreational fields, and fix the security doors at the girls’ shelter. Very soon, Simo will graduate from the program, ready to live independently in housing he pays for with his own salary.

“Simo’s story is heartwarming,” Fr. Gabriel says. “But it’s more than that, too—literally hundreds of other at-risk youth are successfully turning their lives around at Don Bosco Fambul right now. And we are so grateful for the many generous friends of Salesian Missions, whose support helps make it all possible.”

Learn more about our work in Sierra Leone.

Our mission rescues, rehabilitates and educates at-risk youth for work and life. What’s your mission?

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