HUMAN RIGHTS DAY: Salesian Missions highlights education and social programs that provide youth the skills training and support they need for a brighter future
Programs in Colombia, India, Peru and South Sudan illustrate the work of Salesians around the globe that enable youth to access education and support in understanding their rights.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Dec. 10, 2019) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and the international community in honoring Human Rights Day, celebrated each year on Dec. 10. Human Rights Day commemorates the day in 1948 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been translated into more than 500 languages. This milestone document proclaimed the inalienable rights that everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being—regardless of race, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
According to the UN, the Declaration was written by representatives of diverse legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world. It sets out universal values and a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, as well as establishes the equal dignity and worth of every person.
Through education and social development programming, Salesian missionaries in more than 130 countries around the globe work to ensure that all youth know their rights, are able to fully participate in their communities and have their voices heard.
Whether it’s combating child labor, assisting homeless youth or building schools where children previously had no access to education, Salesian missionaries are on the front lines educating youth on their rights and ensuring access to programs and services they need. Working in more than 5,500 Salesian educational institutions and youth centers around the world, missionaries educate children in some of the poorest places on the planet.
“Education is always our primary focus, but we know youth are dealing with much more than just needing access to education,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions. “Salesian missionaries also provide education on human rights which provides vulnerable youth a sense of personal dignity and self-worth. At Salesian schools, young children gain an education, learn about their rights and freedoms, and participate in sports and other activities—all in a safe environment that encourages learning and growth.”
In honor of Human Rights Day, Salesian Missions highlights its unique educational programs that are helping poor youth receive an education, understand their rights and find a path out of poverty, bringing them hope for the future.
Don Bosco City’s protection program, Making Impressions, was established to help children understand their rights and to restore rights for those involved in child labor in the Amaga municipality in Colombia. This program was created in response to social issues that have arisen from the area’s coal-based economy. Many families in the region make their living in the coal mining industry and children are often sent to work in the industry rather than attend school.
Not only are young men and boys being sent to work, many young girls are also faced with labor exploitation and other abuses. Forced to work, they miss out on important opportunities for education leading them to become dependent on others while lacking the ability to take care of themselves. This puts them more at risk of abuse.
Salesian missionaries operating the Making Impressions program use an interdisciplinary approach when working with participating youth. They work as a team with volunteers who have knowledge of the local job market and are able to connect with youth in need. These early connections foster values such as understanding, sharing and mutual respect.
Youth in the program are able to access child rights education and use the library which serves as a quiet space for learning and studying. Participants can also take advantage of recreational spaces which help to make free time more productive and aid in building better relationships with peers.
Close to 100,000 children have been educated about their rights through 907 special clubs and courses offered in schools across India. This education is available thanks to Salesian child rights education programs offered through the CREAM project (Child Rights Education and Action Movement) which is sponsored by the Office of Development of the Salesian Province of Bangalore (BREADS–Bangalore Rural Education and Development Society).
The project was initiated in December 2012 to reach the most disadvantaged children in 10 districts in the Indian state of Karnataka, especially in high-risk urban and rural areas. The goal is to work with youth to build a culture of protection of children’s rights with an emphasis on improving the potential of minors. It also aims to ensure the sustainability of activities and results. The project has entered a second phase working to reach 150,000 youth through child rights education.
Volunteers with the Salesian-run Operation Mato Grosso, led by Father Ugo de Censi, have recently dedicated their time to help the poor in Chimbote, a port city in the Ancash Department of northern Peru. The organization launched the Total School which serves as a primary school for poor youth. Operation Mato Grosso is active in Peru through 70 Salesian programs and centers thanks to the support of Italian and Peruvian volunteers and benefactors. The Total School is its latest project.
Father de Censi visited Chimbote frequently because he was concerned with the high levels of poverty among the children and families in the area. In Chimbote, Operation Mato Grosso now works with the Total School in addition to eight Salesian kindergartens and the Mamma Mia refectory which is attended by close to 1,000 people every day. The new Total School serves as a place where students can learn and receive free study materials, uniforms and lunch.
The Total School also provides moral, spiritual and artistic education in order to fully develop its students. Featuring spaces for carpentry, masonry, weaving, wood and ceramics, the school was built thanks to young volunteers from the Salesian oratory of the Andes who worked hard to obtain the necessary funds and built the structure for free during their school holidays.
More than 4,000 children are receiving an education in Salesian primary, secondary and vocational skills training schools in South Sudan. Due to recent famines, meals are also provided at schools, and for many, this is the only meal they eat for the day.
A camp in Juba for those who have been internally displaced has been consistently growing since the outbreak of war and is currently home to more than 10,000 people, mostly women and children. Without this camp, people would be left destitute with nothing to eat, nowhere to go and no access to any form of education.
To help ensure the camp has enough food, an agricultural project was launched in the camp. The project helps to address both the educational and nutritional shortages in the region. An irrigation system was installed to allow crops of onions, beans, watermelons and other vegetables to be harvested. In addition, skills training was provided to local people to help maintain these crops. The corn harvested in September 2018 was enough to feed 3,000 children with breakfast for 30 days.
Ten solar-powered security lights that come on at night to help deter any intrusions or criminal activity targeted at the already vulnerable people were installed in the camp. These lights increase the general security of the camp, allowing people to feel safer and to get a better night’s sleep.
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