INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ERADICATION OF POVERTY: Salesian Missions highlights educational initiatives that help break the cycle of poverty
More than 5,500 Salesian educational institutions and youth centers educate children in some of the poorest places around the globe.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Oct. 17, 2021) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and countries around the globe in honoring the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty held on Oct. 17 each year.
The theme for this year’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is “Building Forward Together: Ending Persistent Poverty, Respecting all People and our Planet.” According to the World Bank report on “Projected poverty impacts of COVID-19,” between 71 to 100 million people are being pushed into poverty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. The majority of the new extreme poor are in South Asian and Sub-Saharan countries where poverty rates are already high. This number is expected to rise between 143 and 163 million in 2021.
The United Nations noted, “These ‘new poor’ will join the ranks of the 1.3 billion people already living in multidimensional and persistent poverty who saw their pre-existing deprivations aggravated during the global pandemic. As a matter of fact, the impact of COVID-19 has been the hardest on the people who— for generations—have lacked equal access to public goods and services, quality health care systems and strong social protection, making it harder to cope with any shocks. In addition, the measures imposed to limit the spread of the pandemic often further pushed them into poverty—the informal economy which enables many people in poverty to survive was virtually shut down in many countries.”
Whether it’s combating child labor, assisting homeless youth or building schools where children previously had no access to education, Salesian missionaries are ensuring those in need have access to programs and services. They have had to change how they provide services during the pandemic but have remained steadfast in helping those in poverty. Working in more than 5,500 Salesian educational institutions and youth centers around the globe, missionaries educate children in some of the poorest places on the planet.
“Education is a primary pathway out of poverty, and we work to ensure that all children have access to a solid educational foundation,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “Salesian educational programs provide youth the education and technical skills training they need to prepare for employment and have productive lives while becoming contributing adults in their communities. Programs also go beyond traditional education and help youth understand their relation to their community and the world around them.”
In honor of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight initiatives that help to break the cycle of poverty for youth and their families.
Salesian missionaries in Iauaretê, Brazil, have opened a new shelter for Indigenous homeless youth. Salesians will welcome children and teens who are alone and abandoned to ensure that their basic needs are met and they receive access to education.
The Salesian mission of Iauaretê consists of a central missionary district which comprises the St. Michael Archangel parish and 11 chapels. However, the work of the Salesian missionaries extends over a far greater area, reaching 40 Indigenous communities made up of 16 different ethnic groups. Missionaries place particular emphasis on their work with adolescents and children in the communities. Every day, the local Salesian oratory welcomes 300 to 500 children who seek out a healthy protective environment.
The new shelter will house those in need of a safe place to stay. The structure has seven single rooms for Salesian staff and guests, two large dormitories that can each house 30 children, a refectory with a capacity of up to 40 children, a kitchen, pantry, laundry, community room and room for activities. Each room will have an internal bathroom and the dormitories will have two bathrooms each. Outside there will be space for youth to play and have fun with their peers.
Don Bosco Anbu Illam, located in Chennai in Tamil Nadu, India, has received ongoing support for its programs for street children thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. The funding period ran from October 2020 through March 2021. Various activities and educational lessons took place to provide at-risk children with enjoyment, while helping them learn life lessons and prepare for their futures.
In November 2020, Don Bosco Anbu Illam celebrated National Children’s Day by planting trees. Youth made a solemn pledge to care for the earth and to maintain cleanliness. The chief guest of the day explained to youth why protecting the environment is important and how to help ensure a healthy environment in the future. Youth have continued to care for the plants and enjoy the fruits from the garden.
On Feb. 24, in honor of Tamil Nadu Girl Child Protection Day, Don Bosco Anbu Illam organized a COVID-19 awareness program which included additional topics on self-protection and protection from abuses. The training was held in Panpakkam Village for 25 girls.
Don Bosco Technical and Vocational Training School in Rango, in the city of Butare in southern Rwanda, currently offers courses in construction, carpentry, welding and sewing. Each course spans two years of training, and the majority of students in the program are youth who come from vulnerable situations and have been living in poverty. Youth are 17-25 years old, and some are single mothers looking to improve their lives for their children.
The rate of teenage pregnancies in the country has had exponential growth in recent years and is becoming a major obstacle to social and economic development among the poorest populations. Salesians have launched projects to help educate and promote family involvement while also providing skills training so that young mothers can find employment or start a small business, ensuring that they can live in a dignified manner with their children.
Recently, in collaboration with the Salesian Mission Office in Turin, Italy, Salesian missionaries launched a project to purchase 40 sewing machines to train and empower young mothers so they can acquire the skills to start a small business. Launching a modest tailoring or dressmaking shop or a simple sewing workshop can help provide an income for families.
Bosco Global, a Spanish Salesian organization, with the support of the Municipality of Malaga, operates the Foyer Jean XXIII Education and Formation Center in Kara, Togo. This center provides education and support to 183 youth at risk of social exclusion.
The work of Salesian missionaries and Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Togo dates back almost half a century ago. They are committed to educating youth who are living in poverty and are marginalized in the community, and Salesian priests and nuns have trained thousands of youth.
The center ensures youth gain an education and find and retain employment. Most of the youth in the program have dropped out of school, but they are now taking courses and workshops in cooking/pastry making and cutting and sewing. Once they complete the courses, youth receive a diploma recognized by the state that facilitates entry into the job market. The center adapts its courses to the needs of students and the local economy, ensuring that youth have access to the internships and apprenticeships they need to apply the skills they learned in the classroom.
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