Author: Salesian Missions

Publication Date: March 20, 2020

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF HAPPINESS: Salesian Missions is proud to highlight Salesian programs that empower youth, giving them a sense of well-being and happiness

Programs in Italy, Lebanon, Peru and Rwanda highlight Salesian initiatives that educate and empower youth.

NEW ROCHELLE, NY (March 20, 2020) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and countries around the globe in celebrating International Day of Happiness, which falls each year on March 20. In 2011, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution that recognized happiness as a “fundamental human goal” and called for “a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes the happiness and well-being of all people.”

The day is coordinated by Action for Happiness, a nonprofit movement of people from 160 countries, and is supported by a partnership of like-minded organizations. It was founded as a way to inspire, mobilize and advance the global happiness movement. In 2015, the UN launched the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that seek to end poverty, reduce inequality and protect the planet—three key aspects that lead to well-being and happiness.

Each year, International Day of Happiness focuses on a particular theme. This year the theme, “Happier Together,” focuses on what we have in common, rather than what divides us.

“For youth to be happy and have a sense of well-being, they must have access to basic human services, including education, that allow them to feel valued and that their voices will be heard,” says Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “Salesian missionaries meet the basic needs of disadvantaged youth who often have nowhere else to turn. They provide education in addition to social and workforce development services to ensure a positive transition into adulthood.”

In celebration of International Day of Happiness 2020, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight Salesian programs that educate and empower youth.


The Siamo Umani (We are human) project is carried out by the Salesian Social Cooperative within the Sacred Heart Youth Center in Rome, located next to Termini Station and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart founded by Don Bosco. The project helps young refugees and Italians find job placements and was recently selected as an inclusion model at the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva.

Siamo Umani was founded in 2014 by two young married couples, Cristina and Giuseppe and Francesco and Antonella, with the help of Salesian missionaries. Their goal was to connect young refugees seeking services at the Sacred Heart Youth Center to job placements and fulfill the needs of community residents like the elderly. The goal was to bridge a gap between those new to the country and residents who might be able to help refugees acclimate easier.

The project has been successful to date. Its initiatives have grown and diversified and now include assistance for those wishing to start their own small businesses by creating and selling gadgets and homemade crafts.

For example, Soheila from Iran and Amira from Somali have put their artistic talents to good use in the creation of bonbonniere and gadgets for events and anniversaries. Viviane, originally from the Ivory Coast, provides light assistance to the elderly in the center of Rome. Mirvat, a passionate photographer from Syria, curates a blog and aspires to become an influencer on social networks to transmit a message of integration to young people. Finally, Morteza, a young man who arrived in Italy from Afghanistan, is a video maker who is hired by various local groups.


The Don Bosco Technique, located in Fidar, Lebanon, is one of the area’s few professional institutes and welcomes a large number of youth who have difficulties attending school. The goal is to provide them education and social support so they remain in school and gain the skills needed for employment.

The Don Bosco institute offers several different programs for youth including mechanics, electrical installations, hairdressing, computer science and much more. One of the institute’s most praised and sought-after programs is focused on training catering and hotel staff students. There is a large employment sector across the world for graduates who want this kind of employment.

In order to implement the restaurant and catering program effectively, Salesian missionaries in Fidar asked for help from highly-qualified Italian chefs. The chefs’ primary objective is to refine the skills of the institute’s teachers in the field of Italian cuisine and gastronomy—much in demand in Lebanese restaurants.

The Italian chefs are also holding seminars and workshops for the preparation of bakery products, pastries and fresh pasta. These bakery courses provide specialized training for students. The ultimate goal is to equip students with highly employable skills in the workplace.

Ninety youth, sponsored by the Salesian Missions Office in Turin, Italy, will be attending the courses. Supporting future Lebanese chefs is one of many ways Don Bosco institutes are helping youth become productive members of their communities.


The Salesian Center Monte Salvado in Cusco, a city located in the Peruvian Andes, has an agriculture school that offers education to more than 200 children of local farmers who live in isolation. They bring their children to attend the only secondary school in the area. Half of the students live in the two boarding houses attached to the school.

The Salesian Center is located in a region close to the wilderness, 1,100 meters above sea level, and it sits on 80 hectares of land, not all of which is cultivated because some areas extend on the top of steep slopes.

There is a real family atmosphere among the students. They are in contact with nature and animals. They also learn to create jams and fruit buckets with the values ​​of patience and continuous dedication to see the results of their work. The students are working with orange trees, coffee and cocoa crops, and vegetables, along with chickens, rabbits, cattle and pigs.


Don Bosco Technical School in Rango, Rwanda, is providing poor youth hope for the future with vocational and technical training. Uwiringiyimana Grace is a young woman who decided to do away with the cultural beliefs that women can’t pursue technical studies, especially welding courses formerly for men only.

After realizing that the welding sector could provide her a better living, Grace decided to enroll at Don Bosco Technical School. She chose the welding trade because she loves it. Apart from that, she said, “I have been inspired by welders when I saw how they make doors. That’s when I decided to join this career.”

Grace is now in level three in her welding studies. She is optimistic that after graduation she will be able to land her dream job or create her own welding workshop. Grace encourages other young women to look into technical training in trades, adding that they should not underestimate these studies.

Don Bosco Technical School was initially established to accommodate young Salesians preparing to become priests, living there and attending classes. Now it serves as the site for technical and vocational education for young people, a large number of them coming from poor families. Students are also offered lunch at no cost, thanks to the help of donors. Don Bosco Technical School also provides other forms of support for its students, as well as sports and student field visits.


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