Unwavering Commitment, Empowering Outcomes
Marginalized girls and women around the world remain particularly vulnerable to poverty and its ill effects. Our Salesian missionaries focus on empowering them with the education, social support and employment opportunities they need to create better futures for themselves and their families.
“There are so many intersecting reasons for the tremendous disadvantages these girls and women face,” explains Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “Whether it’s discrimination, gender-based oppression, or cultural beliefs in their inferiority, the end result is that they suffer increased rates of poor health, chronic malnutrition and a lack of resources to better their lives.”
That’s why, as part of their unwavering commitment to help women permanently break the chains of generational poverty, Salesian missionaries also strive to equip them to become community leaders who can envision—and achieve—more equitable opportunities for all.
“When women and girls have access to education, they can become true forces for change,” says Fr. Gus. “And that impact extends from their own lives into society as a whole.”
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for instance, the Salesian-run Tuwe Wafundi School of Trades in Bukavu trains female students alongside their male peers in professions traditionally reserved for the latter—including masonry, carpentry, mechanics and welding. Many of these young women first hear of the training through the Don Bosco Center in Bukavu, established in 2014 to serve the area’s growing population of at-risk and homeless youth.
A recent conference sponsored by the school further inspired students to harness their innate potential to lead. Marie, a local entrepreneur who runs a carpentry workshop and who has successfully educated her children with the income she earns herself, shared her life experiences and encouragement with the students.
“To qualify as boys do,” Marie said, “intelligence and strength are needed, and to work with courage. Without disrespecting men, you can make yourself accepted as a true female leader.”
“She told us that to live and be a female leader, we need to have some principles, some rules that we give ourselves,” reports Irène, an apprentice auto mechanic at the school. “That means being independent; working hard and showing we can do things by ourselves; loving our profession; and praying to God because it is He who comforts and gives confidence during our life’s journey. She also cautioned us not to envy what we don’t have.”
“Until a few months ago, the girls of the Tuwe Wafundi School were on the street, without a diploma, without a job and without a future,” says Father Piero Gavioli, director of the Don Bosco Center. “Now, they have the possibility of finding a place in society and a chance to one day change it from within.”
Our mission empowers girls and women to envision and realize positive change. What’s your mission?
Learn more about our work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.