INTERNATIONAL DAY OF CHARITY: Salesian Missions highlights life-changing educational and social programs for poor youth and their families
Salesian missionaries are working in more than 130 countries around the globe, bringing poor youth and their families education, workforce development and social programs.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Sept. 5, 2020) 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 of Charity celebrated each year on Sept. 5. The date was chosen by the General Assembly of the United Nations to commemorate the anniversary of the passing of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 “for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitute a threat to peace.”
As part of the United Nations 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, adopted in September 2015, the UN has recognized the importance of eradicating poverty in all forms. The UN noted, “Poverty presents an enormous global challenge for the international community, as it is a significant threat to sustainable development. In the spirit of global solidarity, the 2030 Agenda is focused on how best to meet the needs of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens and acknowledges the role that the private sector must play in supporting the various organizations who have undertaken philanthropic efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda.”
Nearly 30,000 Salesian priests, brothers, sisters and novices are working in more than 130 countries around the globe bringing poor youth and their families education, workforce development and social programs. They work in some of the most challenges circumstances and are among the first responders during humanitarian crises or natural disasters.
“Education is always our primary focus, but we know youth, their families and their communities are dealing with much more than just needing access to education,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “Salesian missionaries work to meet basic needs like shelter, food and medical care while also working to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches those who need it most.”
In honor of the International Day of Charity, Salesian Missions highlights its unique educational and social programs that are helping poor and at-risk youth meet their basic needs, receive an education and find a path out of poverty, bringing them hope for the future.
Sixty families in six villages in the Rambrai area of Meghalaya, India, received solar lighting thanks to funding from Salesian Missions donors. Their rural homes had no electricity, and children were unable to do their homework and study for exams in the evenings. Mothers also struggled with getting things done at home in the evenings. The project impacted close to 360 youth, as each family had multiple children at home who struggled to keep up with their schoolwork.
Bosco Tech Nongstoin’s electrical department installed the solar lighting and helped families learn to properly care for the lights in their homes. The new solar lights are ensuring children can continue with their studies and working to reduce dropout rates. With the solar lights, families are saving money they had been spending on kerosene lamps, or they can spend the money on other needs of the family.
The solar lamps are also a clean energy source and are decreasing the pollutants from the smoke of the kerosene lamps. Through this project, families were taught about the importance of solar energy for the environment. Now that these families have the lights and the education on how to maintain them, they can provide replacement parts as needed over time.
St. Don Bosco Parish in Lilongwe, Malawi, received funding from Salesian Missions donors to buy maize to help families in the out-stations of the parish. In total, 382 families received the maize. At the Don Bosco Church, 280 families from 28 small Christian communities benefited along with families connected to Salesian centers in Mbunu, Kundi, Kangonoma, Chipeni and more.
Father Mulenga Oswald, St. Don Bosco Parish priest, said, “We sincerely thank Salesian Missions donors for their support, which enabled us to reach out to needy families of our parish. Salesian Missions prompt response helped us to mobilize and assist the people that needed help most.”
In Lilongwe, Salesian missionaries provide many programs to help support poor youth and their families. The Don Bosco Youth Center offers counseling workshops, seminars and educational literature that addresses the multitude of challenges faced by youth in the region. The program focuses on life skills training and the avoidance of high-risk behavior such as substance abuse and gang participation.
Salesian missionaries in Gizo, the capital of the Western Province in the Solomon Islands, inaugurated the St. John Bosco Primary School. The ceremony was attended by 205 students who will attend first to fifth grade at the new school. Parents and community representatives were also present.
The new school has six classrooms and a multipurpose room, as well as three houses for school staff. The construction project also included a cemented path, enabling children to walk free from injury to and from the buildings.
The children attending the school come from communities located in the area most affected by the 2007 tsunami. This includes the fishing village of Nusabaruku and other small villages in the coves behind Nusabaruku. People must travel to Gizo from these small villages by boat. The new school is located on the top of the hill known locally as Millionaire Point, which has now been renamed Nusa-Bosco (Bosco Island).
Salesian missionaries at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, who are operating the Don Bosco Gumbo camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) in Juba, South Sudan, have access to food, hygiene products and other items to help care for the well-being of those in the camp. The camp is home to 9,742 people, the majority women and children with no husbands or fathers, the elderly, and orphans. The camp was established in January 2014 after the outbreak of civil war in December 2013.
During the escalation of violence in South Sudan, St. Vincent de Paul Parish welcomed fleeing families and offered them a place to settle. Throughout the past six years, Salesian missionaries have been accommodating, feeding, educating, and offering medical treatment to the sick and vulnerable in the camp and across the Gumbo host community. A camp manager and supervisor were trained to provide management and oversight of the IDP camp.
The spread of COVID-19 in South Sudan has made the situation in the camp more difficult. The virus is happening during the lean season in the country when food insecurity is always at its worst. A swarm of locusts was also observed in several locations in Magwi County, Eastern Equatoria State, posing further threats to food security and livelihoods. The humanitarian situation in the country is predicted to worsen in the coming months as a result of COVID-19, the desert locust invasion and continued inter-communal violence.
With funding from Salesian Missions, Salesian missionaries at the camp were able to provide food aid rations for 275 internally displaced families. Each person received 10 kg of ground flour, 1 kg of salt, 1 liter of cooking oil and 5 kgs of beans per month. Missionaries were also able to distribute plastic roofing sheets, blankets, floor mats, soap and sanitary plastic jugs to 275 of the most vulnerable households.
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