GLOBAL DAY OF PARENTS: Salesian Missions highlight programs that care for whole family
Salesian missionaries provide support to the parents of the children in their programs.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (June 1, 2023) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and the international community in celebrating Global Day of Parents, which was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012. The day, celebrated each year on June 1, honors parents throughout the world and provides an opportunity to appreciate all parents for their commitment to children.
In their work in more than 130 countries around the globe, Salesian missionaries provide support to the parents of the children in their programs. Father Timothy Ploch, interim director of Salesian Missions, said, “Parents play a critical role in the health and safety of their children. Due to conditions of poverty, sometimes that isn’t always possible so Salesians provide programs to support parents. Whether it’s education we are providing so young single mothers can learn a skill for employment or providing feeding programs to ensure children have at least one meal a day at school or even providing health clinics, Salesians are not only taking care of youth but the whole family.”
In honor of the Global Day of Parents, Salesian Missions is proud to share programs around the globe that provide support for parents and their children.
Salesian missionaries offer a range of social services and educational programs in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea. Salesians operate a parish, a youth center, primary and secondary schools, and a vocational center. The Salesian vocational center is currently offering the program “Vocational Training for Young Mothers in Malabo.”
The program caters to young women who had to drop out of school early because of pregnancies, those who were forced out of the home by their parents or those with children who are not recognized by their fathers. Currently, the Salesian program has 30 young women who are pregnant or have newborn babies. The program is supported by Don Bosco in the World Foundation, which promotes and supports programs in Salesian organizations around the globe.
This program is particularly important because laws in Malabo prevent pregnant young women and young mothers from attending school. Without the opportunity offered by the Salesians to learn a trade, these young women would not be able to gain an education. They would remain in a system that stigmatizes and punishes them while restricting them from gaining the skills for stable employment.
Don Bosco Prafulta Center for Psychological Wellness recently held an event called “Celebration of Feeling” focused on mental health. The event was held at St. Dominic Savio, located in Andheri, a locality in the western part of Mumbai, India. Children from nearby neighborhoods, who don’t normally have access to mental health activities, learned how to handle difficult emotions like anger, sadness, nervousness and fear. They were able to express their emotions through art, painting, storytelling, dance and movement, a graffiti corner, pottery, and more.
A parenting program and career guidance were provided for adults. Additional activities were designed to promote productive thinking and creativity and help people stay positive in life. Parents also had opportunities to learn advanced leadership, problem-solving and creative skills.
Father Godfrey D’Sa, founder and executive director of Prafulta Center for Psychological Wellness, said, “We have mental health care for children, teens and families. Our focus as mental health caregivers is to restore dignity and hope and be compassionate, destigmatize mental health, and encourage people to access help and treatment available in order to live life in all its fullness.”
The Don Bosco Reception Center, a new space dedicated to giving shelter to women with children, was launched in Tijuana, Mexico. The reception center was set up to help women at risk, especially migrants. Women can receive legal, psychological, medical and spiritual services.
Both Salesian missionaries and the authorities in charge of assisting migrants have noted an increase in the flow of migrant women into Tijuana. Salesians developed the new reception center in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNICEF.
According to Father Agustín Novoa, director of the Salesian Center in Tijuana, the reception center’s model promotes “social friendship” in which international agencies involved in the project, governmental entities and the host community all work together to support women.
The common interest of the institutions involved is to work together without competition to provide a safe space for women and their children, and to put the woman, her dignity and the defense of her rights at the center of attention. This new reception center is one project among many launched by the Salesian Center in Tijuana, which since 1987 has been providing services to migrants and poor youth living on the border between Mexico and the U.S.
Salesian missionaries launched projects for young single mothers and at-risk youth in Rango, within the city of Butare, Rwanda. The projects have the support of Mission Don Bosco in Turin, Italy.
To date, 40 young mothers have taken training to learn tailoring skills. They have also received a sewing machine and some essential materials to start a simple tailoring or sewing business that will provide an income for their families.
The rate of teen pregnancy has been growing in recent years and is beginning to create a major obstacle for social and economic development in the country, especially among the population’s poorer segments. An unmarried young woman who becomes pregnant is excluded from society, leaving them alone, vulnerable, and facing financial, social, and health difficulties.
Father Remy Nsengiyumva, the parish priest in Rango, noted, “Many girls drop out of school due to poverty and unwanted pregnancy. To help them and their children, Salesians initiated the two-year tailoring training program at the Vocational Training Center. The new program offers entrepreneurial training and provides a basic took kit so participants can start an income-generating business. The center also offers courses in construction, carpentry and welding.”
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