Educating for Global Peace, One Child at a Time
“Peace is needed today more than ever. War and conflict are unleashing devastation, poverty and hunger, and driving tens of millions of people from their homes,” says U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres. Our Salesian missionaries agree—and continue to take concrete, positive steps toward reversing these trends.
Those steps start with individual children, whose minds are eager to learn and open to new ways of thinking, if only given the opportunity.
“Just as our founder and patron saint Don Bosco knew, our missionaries also know that education forms the foundation of lasting peace,” explains Father Timothy Ploch, interim director of Salesian Missions. “First and foremost, education helps lift youth and their families out of poverty—which is one of the leading drivers of despair and violence. Beyond that, education opens up possibilities and helps students better recognize and appreciate their common ground and shared humanity.”
That’s why, around the world, our Salesian missionaries are committed to educating impoverished children and youth who have faced violence and conflict. “We are working to change their lives, putting them on a path toward becoming contributing members of their communities,” Fr. Tim says.
This commitment is true in countless countries challenged by the legacies of war. But perhaps nowhere is it more crucial—and impactful—than in areas mired by acute crises.
In Haiti, for example, students who attend The Immaculate Parish and Cité Soleil schools in Port-au-Prince perhaps have their only chance to escape the lawlessness that envelops daily life. Located in fragile neighborhoods where the presence of state authorities is totally absent, these schools offer sanctuaries from the violence of gang activities. In order to encourage impoverished children to stay in school and focus on their learning, missionaries provide daily nutritious meals funded, in part, by compassionate donors of Salesian Missions.
In Ukraine*, several Salesian-run schools have remained open and operational despite significant obstacles. Our missionaries are providing education in emergency situations by building shelters and providing support for water, electricity and gas supplies. Psychological support is also available for students, teachers and families, while some school costs are being covered by funding provided by generous donors.
And in Sudan*, missionaries at the St. Joseph Vocational Technical School in Khartoum are providing safe refuge, food and ongoing education to students who have been forced to flee school grounds to avoid militant conflict moving into the area. They may no longer be learning in their familiar classrooms, but these youth remain focused on their goal to envision a different path for their country, as they prepare to become the future leaders of Sudan.
“We can’t eradicate poverty and violence overnight,” Fr. Tim concludes. “But we can make positive progress, one student at a time.”
Our mission prepares youth to be protagonists for peace. What’s your mission?
*Any goods, services, or funds provided by Salesian Missions to programs located in this country were administered in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control.