HUMAN RIGHTS DAY: Salesian Missions highlights programs for youth
Salesian Missions highlights programs helping poor youth receive an education and find a path out of poverty.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Dec. 10, 2022) 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.
This year’s Human Rights Day “Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All” focuses on “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” The call to action is #StandUp4HumanRights.
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 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 faced with many more challenges that sometimes prevent their access to education,” Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “Salesians 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 unique programs that are helping poor youth receive an education and find a path out of poverty, bringing them hope for the future.
Children at Foyer Don Bosco, a home for abused and abandoned children in Kandi, Benin, have received food support thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. The funding provided food support for 36 children, as well as cleaning products and medicines for the infirmary. Ten girls and boys have also benefited from the purchase of toolboxes for various trades.
Foyer Don Bosco serves boys and girls in very complex situations, including those who have been abandoned by their families, victims of abuse, and victims of forced marriages. The area of Kandi often has an influx of children who are on their own. Children are sometimes sold on the black market and exploited in the workforce. A transit home was started with the support of UNICEF to host these children, while guiding them to other homes or trying to find their families.
Foyer Don Bosco was created for children who have nowhere else to go or need to stay for long periods of time. In collaboration with the juvenile courts of Benin, minors who are in conflict with the law and in high-risk situations are assisted by the Salesians. The border police also intercept children being trafficked from Niger and Burkina Faso.
Children living at the Ekalavya Children’s Home were supported by donor funding Salesian Missions. The home was created by the Salesian-run People’s Action for Rural Awakening for disadvantaged children in Konaseema, located in the East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh, India.
The home, which can accommodate up to 50 children, was started to support school dropouts, rescue child laborers, and provide a home for at-risk children, those living on the street, or those who have run away from dysfunctional families. Ekalavya Children’s Home is a child care institution licensed under the Juvenile Justice Act. Every home for children at risk needs to be licensed by the Women Development and Child Welfare Department of the state government.
While providing for basic needs and connecting children into educational programs, Ekalavya Children’s Home also helps children understand their emotions and connect better with their peers and adults. The home provides a weekly meeting where children can talk about issues that are bothering them, whether it’s with other children, school or adults. This helps children work through interpersonal issues and helps them resolve conflict in a productive way.
Youth attending the Don Bosco Vocational Training Center in Koko, within the Kebbi State of Nigeria, received scholarships thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. The 150 students who received scholarships were selected based on criteria developed at the school.
Among the students were youth who were directly affected by bandit attacks, teenage girls who were about to be forced into marriage, youth from poor backgrounds, and orphans who lost either parent. Other students selected had not received any formal education and were willing to learn a skill.
Lydia, one of the recipients, is the oldest of seven daughters. Three years ago, her father died and her mother passed away last year. Lydia was left to take care of her siblings, but she cannot afford the fees to send them to school. She is continuing her education to be able to help her siblings.
Bosco Sevana Center, in Uswetakeiyawa, Sri Lanka, started more than 25 years ago as a rehabilitation center for sexually abused minors. Since then, the center has been converted into a children’s home where vulnerable children, such as street children or orphans, receive care and support to become responsible citizens.
These children, ages 7-16, often grow up on their own and face drug addiction and sexual abuse at an early age. As a result, the school dropout rate has risen alarmingly, exceeding 53 percent. The recent political crisis in the country has compounded an already dire situation.
The multifaceted project aims to ensure that children receive healthy nutrition and good medical care, along with an education. Students can can attend the nearby state school and participate in evening educational support classes. A Salesian noted, “We want to give children the opportunity to continue growing up in a protected family environment, enjoying moments of sports and play like all children in the world.”
Contact: [email protected]