INT’L DAY FOR STREET CHILDREN: Salesian Missions highlights programs that provide shelter and support
Day established by UN to raise awareness of issues affecting youth forced to live on streets.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (April 12, 2023) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian and international organizations around the globe in highlighting the plight of homeless children on the International Day for Street Children. The day provides organizations and the millions of street children in countries worldwide with an opportunity to have their voices heard while ensuring that their rights are not ignored.
Celebrated each year on April 12, the day was established by the United Nations to raise awareness of issues affecting youth forced to live on the streets. The Consortium for Street Children founded the International Day for Street Children in 2011 and is the leading international network dedicated to realizing the rights of street children worldwide.
“Salesian missionaries around the globe provide safety, shelter and education for street children,” said Father Timothy Ploch, interim director of Salesian Missions. “Salesian programs aim to help children live safely while getting the emotional support they need and the education that will help them live independently. It’s a second chance for these children to have hope for a better life.”
In honor of the International Day for Street Children 2023, Salesian Missions is proud to share programs around the globe that provide street children hope for a better life.
A group of past pupils from Don Bosco City, located in Medellín, Colombia, has developed a project to improve food access for street children. The goal is to guarantee at least one decent meal at least once a week for these youth who live in extreme poverty. Thanks to the leaders of this project, Salomón Brand and Alex Sepúlveda, other past pupils and friends have joined in to support this initiative. Their project, which has grown to 20 people, is now an example for other past pupils who want to launch projects to support those living in poverty.
Brand and Sepúlveda are among more than 83,000 youth that Don Bosco City has rescued since it opened in 1965. The organization is one of the oldest and largest programs for street children in Latin America. Salesian missionaries offer a multi-pronged approach designed to address the broad social issues that contribute to the poverty and exploitation these youth face while training them in the skills necessary to break the cycle of violence and poverty.
The long rehabilitation process at Don Bosco City focuses on three things youth need to learn — how to trust, to have hope for the future and to build relationships with others. Psychologists and teachers work together with youth, giving them the tools for a better future including basic education and more advanced skills training that will lead to stable employment.
St. Dominic Savio Youth Center, located in Tema New Town, a neighborhood in Tema, Ghana, provides a place for street children to seek shelter, live comfortably and access mainstream education at nearby schools. At the center, which was established in 2003, youth receive a range of support to help them recover from their life on the streets and prepare for a brighter future.
The center provides daily education where youth learn reading, writing, comprehension and simple mathematics. They are also provided a hot lunch in the afternoon.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the center’s oratory had been closed to prevent the spread of the virus. It was finally reopened and oratory activities have resumed. Each Friday, children from different schools come together to play and are assisted with their homework.
At the end of 2022, youth at the center were taken on an excursion as part of the curriculum activities and to see beautiful places in Ghana. The 2022 trip was to the Chill River Resort. A Salesian noted, “The trip was so refreshing, and the children were very happy.”
Don Bosco Veedu is opening a new building to support street children in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India. The Salesian organization has been educating and empowering children who are homeless and living in conditions of poverty since May 1991. Father Jose Thomas Koyickal, provincial of the Bangalore Province, blessed and laid the foundation stone for the new building.
The Don Bosco Veedu center has eight programs to support children and women. The new center building will have various offices, space for teaching short-term skills, a resource center, boarding facilities, a training center and residence for the Salesians.
Don Bosco Veedu also runs the Childline hotline in Kerala. The Childline hotline is available 24 hours a day at a toll-free number. The Childline team responds to the needs of street children in crisis situations. Salesian staff works with police, health care, juvenile justice, transportation, and legal authorities along with the media to create awareness on child rights and provide child protection services. Salesian staff works tirelessly every day of the year to ensure the rights of the children in need and give them special care and protection.
Don Bosco Kuajok in South Sudan* was started three years ago on land barely fit for agricultural use. Today, it’s a thriving Salesian community with a primary school that educates 300 children and employs nine teachers. There is also a program that offers addiction treatment and rehabilitation for street children who are roaming the market in the center of Kuajok. An oratory opens each day and provides for those in distant parts of Kuajok, who are most often internally displaced people.
Brother Lothar Wagner, who is now in Liberia, started the rehabilitation of street children in this area. With the support of Don Bosco Bonn in Germany, 150 children have been returned to their families since 2019. Some children have started school. The program has expanded over three years to also include a Salesian house with volunteer rooms and a medical dispensary. Salesians are able to drive people to the town hospital in cases of emergency.
*Any goods, services, or funds provided by Salesian Missions to programs located in this country were administered in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control.
Contact: [email protected]