INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE: Salesian Missions highlights life-changing humanitarian aid and social programs
This year’s theme is “Recovering better for an equitable and sustainable world.”
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Sept. 21, 2021) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and countries around the globe in recognizing the International Day of Peace, observed on Sept. 21 each year. The United Nations General Assembly declared the International Day of Peace as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.
This year’s theme “Recovering better for an equitable and sustainable world” focuses on how to help everyone recover better from the COVID-19 pandemic, build resilience, and transform the world into one that is more equal, just, equitable, inclusive, sustainable and healthier.
The U.N. noted, “The pandemic is known for hitting the underprivileged and marginalized groups the hardest. By April 2021, over 687 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered globally, but over 100 countries have not received a single dose. People caught in conflict are especially vulnerable in terms of lack of access to health care.”
Further, the U.N. stated, “In line with the Secretary-General’s appeal for a global ceasefire last March, in February 2021 the Security Council unanimously passed a resolution calling for Member States to support a ‘sustained humanitarian pause’ to local conflicts. The global ceasefire must continue to be honoured, to ensure people caught in conflict have access to lifesaving vaccinations and treatments.”
Salesian missionaries in countries around the globe have been responding to needs brought about by the pandemic. They are helping migrant families and those who work in the informal sector who now lack money for food or shelter because they cannot work due to lockdowns. Salesian missionaries are also providing for homeless children who beg on the streets to earn money for a small amount of food, and they are ensuring that education continues for those who live in poverty.
“While Salesian missionaries are responding to these new needs, they are still working to meet their core mission of providing the programs and services children and families need to break the cycle of poverty for good,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “Missionaries are still feeding malnourished families, rescuing homeless children from the streets, educating impoverished children and teaching youth the skills they need to have hope for a brighter future.”
To mark International Day of Peace 2021, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight programs around the globe that provide life-changing education and services.
Don Bosco Educational Center, located in Natal, Brazil, received 1.5 tons of non-perishable food to distribute to families in need who are assisted by the center in the Lagoa Azul neighborhood and surrounding areas. The food was collected as part of the Brazilian army’s “Help is in our hands” campaign. The goal of the initiative is to help low-income families who have seen their socio-economic situation worsen with the pandemic.
The commander of the 7th Motorized Infantry Brigade, Brigadier General Carlos José Rocha Lima, presided over a ceremony while delivering the food to various institutions in Natal. Father Eneas Andrade de Araújo, deputy director of the Don Bosco Center, and Janaína Félix, a social worker, received the donation.
Since March 2020, Don Bosco Educational Center has joined efforts with various public and private partners to address food shortages. The center has served more than 2,000 families with basic food packages and hygiene kits. More than 1,000 people have needed additional assistance services because they are vulnerable to social and economic risk.
The Salesian Province of Bangalore, BREADS and the Youth Commission of the Archdiocese of Bangalore led by the Salesian Father Anil D’Sa are continuing to facilitate initiatives to help those affected by COVID-19 in India. Recently, several health clinics have been held to help vaccinate people and provide health kits for those in need.
BREADS has been packaging and shipping individual protection kits, which contain masks, disinfectants, thermometers, face shields and other essentials, to people in need in the State of Karnataka. BREADS has also been distributing medical kits to volunteers working on the front lines and families infected with COVID-19.
Don Bosco Agricultural and Rural Development Service in Mandya has also distributed health kits to frontline volunteers, social workers and kindergarten teachers. Salesians in Bhadravati have distributed health kits for residents of the Siddhartha Center for the Blind.
The Salesian Youth South Camp, held at a mountain house in El Houssoun, Lebanon, is an oasis of peace and serenity in a time of social, political and economic challenges in the country. Close to 800 youth, including youth from Lebanon and refugees from Syria and Iraq, are coming together to bond with their peers.
The children, who are a mix of Muslims and Christians, enjoy sports and recreation together. A Salesian missionary from the local youth oratory said, “It’s impressive to see the joy that shines on the faces of children and adolescents and the enthusiasm they put into participating in the various activities offered.”
This summer break is in sharp contrast to the daily lives of those living in Lebanon. According to the World Bank, there is a severe, prolonged economic depression in the country where now more than half the population is likely living below the poverty line.
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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