Author: Salesian Missions

Publication Date: October 15, 2021

GLOBAL HANDWASHING DAY: Salesian Missions highlights programs that provide clean water access for hand-washing and proper hygiene

Working and living in the communities they serve, Salesian missionaries are perfectly positioned to ensure that soap and other hygiene items reach those most in need.

NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Oct. 15, 2021) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins the international community in celebrating Global Handwashing Day 2021. The day, organized by the Global Handwashing Partnership, is celebrated each year on Oct. 15 and is dedicated to increasing awareness of the importance of hand-washing with soap.

The 2021 Global Handwashing Day theme is “Our Future is at Hand – Let’s Move Forward Together” and focuses on the recent global initiative calling on all to scale up hand hygiene, especially through hand-washing with soap. This has been especially important in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the World Health Organization, millions of young lives could be saved with access to bar soap and hygiene education. Pneumonia and diarrheal disease are two of the leading causes of death among children under 5 years old. Most are from populations in developing countries who live in extreme poverty. Having access to clean water and soap is one of the best preventive measures.

Working and living in the communities they serve, Salesian missionaries are perfectly positioned to ensure that soap and other hygiene items reach those most in need. Accompanying education ensures that recipients learn the importance of proper hygiene for good health. Operating primary schools, technical training centers, agricultural schools, youth centers, orphanages and programs for street children, Salesian missionaries are on the front lines assessing what youth and their families need most.

“Clean, safe water and access to soap are important now more than ever,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “Improving water access brings a sense of dignity to children and ensures that teachers and students are working and learning in an environment that promotes proper hygiene. This reduces the number of waterborne illnesses that can affect those in our schools, keeping them away from important study time.”

To mark Global Handwashing Day, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight programs that ensure youth have access to clean water and soap, as well as hygiene education.



The Salesian Parish in Rukago, Burundi, has access to hand-washing stations thanks to funding from Salesian Missions. This project, which benefited 65,000 people in the parish and local community, provided hand-washing stations in eight churches, 15 schools and the Don Bosco Oratory.

“Installing hand-washing stations in front of churches, offices, schools and playgrounds is an effective means of fighting the coronavirus pandemic while giving the local population the hope of living,” said Father Raphaël Katanga, economer of the Salesian Community in Rukago. “With the funding, we have also supported some vulnerable families from a local Indigenous group, who were at risk of facing food shortage due to the limited circulation of goods and people.”


Hand-washing stations have been installed in Salesian educational centers in Bamako, Sikasso and Touba, Mali, where educational activities have resumed. Salesian missionaries are well aware of the risks Mali faces during the pandemic, and they are working to protect and support youth and the most vulnerable families in their programs and communities.

Creating a culture of personal hygiene and careful hand-washing is one of the most important prevention measures. Father Romeo Salami, from the Salesian Planning and Development Office of the West Africa Province, is working to ensure local programs have what they need to provide a safe environment for youth. He also wishes to thank all of the people who collaborated in the “Faced with the pandemic, Global Solidarity” project, which raised funds to help these efforts.

“The installation of hand-washing devices in our vocational training centers in Bamako, Sikasso and Touba guarantees the continued education of the most vulnerable,” explained Fr. Salami.


Youth attending the St. John Bosco Parish, which is part of the Don Bosco Youth Center in Rundu, Namibia, have access to clean, safe water through the installation of a new water tank thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. The project, part of the Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative,” is impacting more than 7,300 people who are part of the church community.

Salesian missionaries now report that the water situation has improved, church services can start and they are compliant with COVID-19 requirements. Salesians are able to help prevent waterborne illness, and there are increased numbers of youth attending programs.

“The water project at St. John Bosco Parish was met with great success,” said Father Louis Malama, project manager at Don Bosco Youth Center. “The new water tank has improved and provided sufficient clean and safe water for youth who come for various programs and church services. We are thankful to our donors and to Salesian Missions.”


The Salesian St. John Bosco Parish, in Minoyan, Murcia, Negros Occidental, Philippines, has access to clean water thanks to a new project funded by the Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative.” The new water supply will serve the Salesian Youth Center, kindergarten, parish office and rectory. The project included the installation of pipelines for a new water source, construction of a raised stand for the water tank, and installation of a water tank and motor pump.

The Salesian parish population serves close to 15,000 people, 90 percent of whom are poor subsistence farmers and sugarcane plantation workers. Inside the parish compound, Salesian missionaries operate a kindergarten program, which prepares disadvantaged children for formal education.

In addition to classes, Salesian missionaries also offer pastoral activities and gatherings, requiring a steady water supply for the parish. Prior to the project, the Salesian parish received its water supply from an old source that was also supplying water to a large number of households in Minoyan, leading to an inadequate water supply for the parish.


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