Scouting Shines the Light of Peace
Today, in what seems to be the darkest hour in the war-torn country of the Central African Republic (CAR), 15,000 children and young people are ready and eager to join the worldwide “Scouting” movement, and brighten their country’s path toward peace.
Scouting is a global movement that helps build a young person physically, mentally and spiritually. Just like America’s Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Scouting organizations around the world provide programs, activities and events to encourage young people to become active citizens who create positive change in their communities. Although Scouting has existed in CAR for decades, it lacked a nationally organized program and mission—which deprived them of receiving crucial funding, partnerships and other resources that could help the local movement grow and increase its effectiveness.
“In a country marred by a brutal and ongoing civil war—where hopelessness and despair drive more and more youth to take up arms without necessarily knowing what they’re fighting for—viable, constructive alternatives such as Scouting are critical,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions. “And the more positive opportunities there are for youth to grasp, the more likely they can productively influence their country’s future.”
Existing Scouts in CAR perform vital community services, such as communicating public health warnings to remote villages. Imagine what they might accomplish with a national focus and fully trained leaders.
This is why, in collaboration with the Association of French Scouts and Guides, the Don Bosco Foundation of France is helping to rehabilitate the Central African Scouts training center in Bangui—including educational spaces, multipurpose activity areas, and a water tower that will serve several surrounding communities. And, the Don Bosco Foundation has committed additional human, logistical, technical and financial resources to further develop the Scout’s capacity, and ability to reliably replicate effective initiatives throughout the country.
Guided by the belief that “education is the gateway to creating a more just and humane world, and to improving everyone’s lives,” the Don Bosco Foundation supports Salesian missionaries all over the world in their efforts to develop the dignity and potential of vulnerable youth. This new partnership with Scouting is therefore natural.
Although youth in Bangui will be the first to benefit, they will not be the last; according to the Don Bosco Foundation, the training center will have a “wider range of action and greater diffusion in other cities” as early as 2020.
“This is one very important example of how, despite CAR’s significant challenges, Salesian missionaries continue to work diligently for children and families affected by war and poverty,” says Fr. Mark. “In addition to education, social development programs like Scouting help youth regain a sense of normalcy and envision a better future … with themselves as protagonists of peace.”
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