Education Lights the Way Forward
For nearly three decades, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has struggled with the prolonged and punishing legacies of war including hunger, disease, displacement and more. Knowing that education is key to permanently breaking this cycle, our Salesian missionaries in Bukavu are committed to providing youth with the chance to attend school.
“Now more than ever, it’s crucial that we make it easier for DRC’s children and youth to learn,” explains Father Timothy Ploch, interim director of Salesian Missions. “Even those who haven’t directly been affected by armed conflict live within its social context—which teaches them that violence is a legitimate way to deal with everyday challenges.”
As our Salesian missionaries around the world have witnessed again and again, without meaningful intervention, this philosophy risks becoming commonplace at the community and country level. Aggression becomes a way of life, while its deep-seated effects further plunge entire generations into the poverty and hopelessness that sparked violence in the first place.
“It’s a vicious spiral that education can effectively address,” Fr. Tim continues. “And that’s what our missionaries in the DRC are relying on. Through existing and new educational projects, they intend to prepare youth for better futures and help them see their way forward.”
At the Don Bosco Center in Bukavu, for example, missionaries have offered new beginnings for thousands of displaced and homeless children since 2014. Last year, administrators expanded enrollment at the Center’s Tuwe Wafundi School of Trades to 150 students—tripling its capacity in just eight years. And youth immediately rushed in claiming every seat for tuition-free training in carpentry, auto mechanics, welding and masonry.
To ensure they were ready to learn, missionaries first required every enrollee to complete two months of remedial education and literacy classes. Students then moved on to eight months of practical training, augmented by three months of on-site field placements.
Thirteen months later, nearly 80 percent of the students have successfully earned their professional certificates and many have already found jobs in their chosen field.
“It may seem a monumental task to turn DRC’s future around,” says Fr. Tim. “But these motivated youth and eager students demonstrate exactly how it can be done. Education not only prepares them for meaningful work, but it also exposes them to new ideas and opportunities to evaluate what’s happening around them. Freed from the despair that leads to violence, they can envision a brighter path forward for themselves and their country.”
Learn more about our work in the DRC.
Our mission prepares at-risk youth for meaningful work and offers a better alternative to the violence borne of despair. 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.