INTERNATIONAL YOUTH DAY: Salesian Missions highlights programs that support and educate youth
Access to education lays the foundation for a better future for youth.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Aug. 12, 2022) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and countries around the globe in recognizing International Youth Day. Celebrated each year on Aug. 12, International Youth Day was established by the United Nations to raise awareness of issues affecting young people around the world.
The theme of International Youth Day 2022 is “Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages.” It focuses on ageism against youth and raises awareness on barriers to intergenerational solidarity, including ageism, which the United Nations notes impacts the young and old while having detrimental effects on society as a whole.
The U.N. referenced its Global Report on Ageism that “highlights the many data gaps that exist with regards to ageism against youth. Despite this lack of research, young people continue to report age-related barriers in various spheres of their lives such as employment, political participation, health and justice. On an individual level, these age-related obstacles can deeply impact well-being and livelihoods not only during the youth years, but also in adulthood. On a societal level, ageism prevents us from thinking and designing policies and social services that adopt a life-course approach and are fair for all ages.”
Working in more than 130 countries around the globe, Salesian missionaries provide a range of social development and educational programs that aim to help youth have their basic needs met while gaining an education for future employment. Salesian missionaries offer more than 5,500 primary and secondary schools and more than 1,000 vocational, technical, professional and agricultural schools around the globe.
“We know that access to education lays the foundation for a better future for all youth,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “In many countries where poverty is high and access to education is not universal, Salesians are providing critical training so that youth can learn a trade and lead productive lives.”
In honor and celebration of International Youth Day 2022, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight Salesian initiatives and programs that support and educate youth.
Children at Foyer Don Bosco, a home for abused and abandoned children in Kandi, Benin, have their needs met thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. The funding covered new clothing for 30 children. Additional funding provided food support for 36 children, as well as cleaning products and medicines for the infirmary. Ten girls and boys have also benefited from the purchase of toolboxes for various trades.
Foyer Don Bosco serves boys and girls in very complex situations, including those who have been abandoned by their families, victims of abuse, and victims of forced marriages. The area of Kandi often has an influx of children who are on their own. Children are sometimes sold on the black market and exploited in the workforce. A transit home was started with the support of UNICEF to host these children, while guiding them to other homes or trying to find their families.
Foyer Don Bosco was created for children who have nowhere else to go or need to stay for long periods of time. In collaboration with the juvenile courts of Benin, minors who are in conflict with the law and in high-risk situations are assisted by the Salesians. The border police also intercept children being trafficked from Niger and Burkina Faso. Currently, there are 40 youth in the home, ranging in age from 5 to 15.
Youth from the Lakay Don Bosco musical program, which is known as “With our musical instruments we fight violence,” put on an event to showcase their talents. There are more than 100 youth involved, who are from Lakay Don Bosco and the surrounding La Saline neighborhood on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The goal is to support youth through musical education to help them escape the violence in their neighborhoods.
Lakay Don Bosco was established in 1988 in Port-au-Prince by an Italian Salesian priest. Father Attilio Stra launched the project to answer the needs of children and older youth who had been rejected and marginalized and lived in situations of neglect, negligence, or serious social risk. For more than 30 years, that has remained the mission of Lakay Don Bosco.
Currently, the Lakay project includes five facilities in Port-au-Prince and one, divided into two sectors, in Cap-Haïtien. Each of these structures was created to respond to needs of children and older youth living on the streets. In total, nearly 5,700 minors benefit from this project, which is facilitated by 57 staff members.
The Lakay project centers are each specialized for the various stages of life and types of assistance needed by youth. At Foyer Lakay, children live as a family for a period of four years until the completion of an apprenticeship in a technical profession. Lakay Program for Street Children provides shelter and educational services for street children in Cap-Haïtien and Port-au-Prince.
Tea farmers in the Tinsukia District, in the state of Assam, India, received financial support thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. Thirty-five farmers are cultivating 7.59 hectares of land. Fourteen farmers have already harvested their first tea leaves and are making a profit. The farmers receive loans which help their gardens get started. They then repay the money from their harvest, which in turn allows Salesians to help more farmers.
Sukram Murah is already earning money from his garden. He said it was a great help to receive the financial support since he is a daily wage earner. In addition, Salesian technical farming training taught him how to plant more than one type of crop. As a result, he was able to receive double the income from the same plot of land. Along with tea leaves, Murah planted 80 betel nut plants in his tea garden.
Four other farmers also planted vegetables in their tea gardens, but due to excess rain this year, the crops were spoiled. The rain also killed 10-30 percent of eight other farmers’ crops. Salesian staff visited the gardens and after discussion, the farmers will replant the area. Some farmers also bought extra plants for vacant areas.
A total of 316 students looking to make a career in renewable energy received training in solar installation, operation and maintenance thanks to grant funding Salesian Missions received from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. The training initiative took place from Aug. 1, 2020, to May 31, 2021, at the Don Bosco training centers in Dodoma and Iringa, Tanzania.
Through the training initiative, students benefited from solar technician courses along with soft skills training, field attachments, job search help and other career guidance. With this funding, business development services training started for 94 short course students and 110 Level III trainees. Students now have the knowledge and skills to develop and implement business plans and formally register their businesses.
Don Bosco training centers also organized four career fairs to help students transition from the classroom into the workforce. These events included one-on-one sessions, Q&A panels and experience sharing. The event representatives included partners and solar graduate alumni as well as local and regional companies. Experts in entrepreneurship, soft skills development and human resources were also included. These events presented trainees with the chance to see potential opportunities, acquire new insights and explore the different career pathways available to them.
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