INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE: Salesian Missions highlights life-changing humanitarian aid, scholarships and support for poor youth around the globe
Programs in India, South Africa, South Sudan and Thailand illustrate the work of Salesians strengthening the ideals of peace through education and social supports.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Sept. 21, 2020) 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 is “Shaping Peace Together” and calls on everyone to celebrate the day by spreading compassion, kindness and hope in the face of the global pandemic. The UN General Assembly has also declared that this day is devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire. The UN had noted that, “In March, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on all warring parties to lay down their weapons and focus on the battle against this unprecedented global pandemic. While the message is intended for armed parties, solidarity and cooperation across borders, sectors and generations are also needed to win this new fight against the worst public health crisis of our time.”
Salesian missionaries in countries around the globe have been responding to needs brought about by the pandemic. Migrant workers and those who work in the informal sector cannot work because of lockdowns and don’t have money for food or shelter. Homeless children who beg on the streets to earn money for a small amount of food to eat are even more at risk. Some countries have limited access to medical care so prevention is even more critical.
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. 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 2020, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight programs around the globe that provide life-changing education and services.
The Anma Integrated Development Association (AIDA) was able to support 13 farmers with tea saplings thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. The tea project was developed in 2008 to help tea garden laborers in Assam, a state in northeastern India. The area is known for its wildlife, archeological sites and tea plantations.
India is one of the largest tea producers in the world with close to 70 percent of its tea consumed within India itself. The Indian tea industry has grown to own many global tea brands and has evolved into one of the most technologically equipped tea industries in the world. The districts of Golaghat, Sibsagar, Dibrugarh and Tinsukia in Assam have a large number of tea estates.
The tea estates are tended to by laborers, who despite working long hours often do not earn enough wages to meet their basic needs or escape poverty. Many tea laborers own small parcels of land but, for various reasons, leave the land uncultivated while they leave home to work at larger tea estates. In times of financial crisis, they are often forced to mortgage their land for small loans and when they are unable to repay the loans, the land is forfeited. Salesian missionaries in India, aware of this difficult situation, are working to provide opportunities for tea laborers to break the cycle of poverty.
Salesian missionaries, with the Salesian Planning and Development Office in Johannesburg, South Africa, were able to provide food support to Salesian sites in Eswatini (Swaziland), Lesotho and South Africa thanks to funding from Salesian Missions. The project is part of COVID-19 relief efforts in these countries.
All Salesian sites that have received the donation have distributed the first food packages to youth and families in need and are now preparing for the second distribution in the coming weeks. The feedback Salesians are receiving from people receiving the donation is very positive.
Further funding from Don Bosco Mondo in Germany will also allow Salesian missionaries to continue with this project for the most vulnerable for an extended period of time. This funding also has provided the opportunity to begin production of masks, which will be added to some of the food packages.
Students attending the Don Bosco Vocational Training Center in Juba, South Sudan, have received scholarships to help afford their education and continue their studies thanks to funding from Salesian Missions donors. The scholarships, which are mainly focused on female students, cover 50 percent of the school’s tuition, making it much easier for young women to gain an education.
One student, Ayany Pamela, said, “This program has given me the courage to return to school after completing my secondary education. I had not been able to continue in school because of financial problems. After noticing that women were given this opportunity, I became much motivated because it is now affordable for me. This program has contributed much in my personal life by allowing me to obtain knowledge and skills. Without it, I cannot imagine how I would have continued my education or found a good job.”
In South Sudan, due to lack of financial support, many families force their girls into early marriages. The program’s goal is to reduce the incidence of early marriage and allow young women to gain an education and independence in the workplace.
A Salesian Missions donor provided funding for two siblings to continue their education in Thailand. The funding was provided to the Salesian-run Hua Hin Vitthayalai School, located in the town of Hua Hin, and it will enable Poppy, who is 14, to continue with secondary school while her young brother Carlin, age 11, will continue primary school. The funding will also cover the cost of tuition and after school extra classes.
The children’s father is paralyzed and is unable to work. Their mother has been working to care for the family but barely earns enough to cover food, rent, electricity and other basic necessities. The family did not have the extra money to pay for school tuition so the donor’s support was critical in ensuring Poppy and Carlin gain an education.
“We want to ensure the youth are able to finish until grade 12 so we are grateful for the Salesian Missions donor’s support,” said Father Dheparat Pitisant. “We provide them a free lunch and support so they can attend extra classes and extracurricular activities so they have time to connect with their peers. The students are also helping to support their family. During their free time they help to make keychains which the family sells in town at the night market.”
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