Author: Salesian Missions

Publication Date: March 06, 2024

Big Plans, Bright Dreams

Across Makululu, Zambia, homeless youth often become society’s failures—the lack of education, employment opportunities, and meaningful social support leads to despair, substance abuse, and family breakdown. At Don Bosco Children’s Home, vulnerable youth with nowhere else to turn find refuge … and hope.

“These youngsters who end up living on the streets have often been thrown out of their homes for one reason or another,” explains Agata Januszewska, a volunteer at the center. So they beg and steal to survive. And they constantly worry about drug dealers patrolling the corners, waiting for an opportunity to take advantage of them.

“Wherever homeless and unsupervised youth exist, heartless adults exploit them—sending them into dangerous situations to earn money they’re not allowed to keep. Worse, they have no power to change the dynamic,” says Father Michael Conway, director of Salesian Missions.

Ironically, many children turn to substance abuse themselves. It’s the only way they can numb the pain of their situation. In Makululu, youth—some as young as seven years old—become addicted to glue to escape.

That’s why Salesian missionaries first opened Don Bosco Children’s Home there. Makululu is widely recognized as southern Africa’s largest and poorest settlement—and its youth desperately need meaningful support.

Since 2017, this crucial program has served as the initial stepping stone into more stable futures for hundreds of homeless youth. Professional staff and volunteers rescue children from the streets with the primary goal of reintegrating them with their parents or guardians. Currently, 92 young people, ages 7 to 14, receive safe shelter, daily meals, family counseling and rehabilitation services tailored to their individual situations and needs. They attend school during the day, and learn responsibility and cooperation by doing evening chores.

Children who successfully reintegrate with their families can continue their basic education at the center’s school, or another school in the greater community. Those whose families reject them can stay at the Home, complete their education, and pursue vocational training which prepares them to become self-sufficient, contributing members of society.

“Our plans and dreams are big, but they have to be when you see so many children struggling to survive on the streets,” says Father Michael Wzietek, director of Don Bosco Children’s Home. “We have plans to expand our work in Makululu and our other compound in Cabo so it can become a rehabilitation center and we can rescue even more children.”

To learn more about Don Bosco Children’s Home, we invite you to watch a new documentary about it called Rescued from the Street.

Learn more about our work in Zambia.

Our mission provides the holistic support homeless children need to turn their lives around. What’s your mission?

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