INTERNATIONAL DAY OF CHARITY: Salesian Missions highlights life-changing social programs for poor youth and their families
Programs help at-risk youth meet their basic needs, receive an education and find a path out of poverty.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Sept. 5, 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 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 U.N. has recognized the importance of eradicating poverty in all forms. The U.N. 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 education, workforce development and social programs to poor youth and their families. They work in some of the most challenging 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 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.
The Don Bosco Center for Malnourished Children in San Carlos, Santa Cruz, Bolivia, received funding from donors of Salesian Missions to help support children and families in need.
Currently, 150 boys and girls access the services of the Don Bosco Center for Malnourished Children each year. The length of stay at the center is determined by the degree of malnutrition that the child faces.
As part of a new treatment model for children, mothers are involved in the recovery process. To make this easier, the center has set up temporary accommodations for the mothers and clearly defined their roles and responsibilities during their stay.
The mothers participate in training workshops on malnutrition and its prevention, caring for their children, growth, health, and preventive medicine. They are then able to apply what they have learned until it becomes a daily habit.
One of the mothers taking part in the program is María Choque. Her daughter Estefany arrived at the Don Bosco Center for Malnourished Children at the end of 2020 with severe malnutrition. Estefany received the necessary care until she fully recovered. The center has become her second home. It took her close to three months to regain the appropriate body mass index for her age.
Salesian missionaries working at the Don Bosco Technical School in Dekemhare, a town roughly 25 miles southeast of the capital city of Asmara in Eritrea, have been able to buy two cows and food items thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions.
Don Bosco Technical School provides education to 400 boys and girls. The school offers technical courses in automotive work, general metal, general mechanics, carpentry, building construction, woodwork or furniture making, electricity, electronics, and surveying. In addition, students take information technology and academic courses. Each trade course of study is two years long and at completion, students sit for a national exam. They also enter into military training for six months and are assigned a job by the government.
In addition to the technical school, Salesian missionaries have aspirant training and a youth center. Overall, Salesian missionaries hope to have funding for additional cows and to enlarge the barn to increase the self-sustainability of Salesian initiatives.
Don Bosco Anbu Illam, located in Namakkal, Tamil Nadu, India, received donor funding from Salesian Missions to help support its Don Bosco Care Home program, which provides for youth who have HIV/AIDS. Don Bosco Care Home serves at-risk youth and those with a positive HIV diagnosis. Currently, there are 47 boarders at the home.
Youth are also are able to access medical care. Regular medical check-ups are provided by a team of doctors who come to Don Bosco Care Home and conduct medical camps where youth can access critical antiretroviral therapy treatments (ART). Youth who do not live at the home, including those who attend the local polytechnic college, also have access to the program’s ART treatments.
At Don Bosco Care Home, youth are also able to access psychological support through counseling and psychotherapy sessions. Trained and experienced social workers and counselors conduct these sessions where youth are able to address their mental health needs and are motivated to lead a positive life.
Salesian parishes in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, have set up transit stations to distribute water and other necessities for people in lockdown during a new wave of the COVID-19 pandemic that has impacted the city in recent weeks. Those who have been quarantined have no way to provide for their families, and many are relying on the assistance of Salesians to get by during this time.
When a special quarantine order was issued in Ho Chi Minh City on July 9, Salesian priests and younger confreres with the Rinaldi Theologate community brought drinking water to families. They worked in collaboration with young migrants and the Pastoral Council of the Don Bosco Xuan Hiep Parish. Three large water tanks were transported to isolated areas, where families took the water from the tanks and transferred it to special containers. In addition, basic necessities were also distributed. Other Salesian parishes in Ho Chi Minh City, including Ben Cat and Ba Thon, have also carried out the same initiative.
Salesians in the city of Da Lat and in the communities of K’Long contacted garden owners to collect vegetables and send them to Ho Chi Minh City. To date, vegetables have been sent to the Rinaldi Theologate community and the Don Bosco Xuan Hiep Parish where Salesians have been distributing them to people in need.
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