INT’L DAY OF CHARITY: Salesian Missions highlights programs helping youth find path out of poverty
Along with providing education, Salesian missionaries work to meet basic needs of youth and their families.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Sept 5, 2023) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and countries around the globe in honoring the International Day of Charity celebrated each year on Sept. 5. The date was chosen by the General Assembly of the United Nations to commemorate the anniversary of the passing of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 “for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitute a threat to peace.”
As part of the United Nations 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, adopted in September 2015, the U.N. has recognized the importance of eradicating poverty in all forms. Nearly 30,000 Salesian priests, brothers, sisters, and novices are working in more than 130 countries bringing education, workforce development, and social programs to poor youth and their families. They work in some of the most challenging circumstances and are among the first to respond during humanitarian crises or natural disasters.
“All of the youth and families we serve around the globe living on conditions of poverty,” said Father Timothy Ploch, interim director of Salesian Missions. “While education is always our primary focus, we know youth are dealing with much more than just needing access to education. Salesian missionaries work to meet basic needs like shelter, food and medical care while also working to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches those who need it most.”
In honor of the International Day of Charity, Salesian Missions highlights unique educational programs that are helping poor and at-risk youth to receive an education and find a path out of poverty, bringing them hope for the future.
Close to 800 youth at 30 tuition (study) centers in India have been supported thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. The centers provide school support for poor and disadvantaged students. At the centers, students are encouraged to study, improve their reading, writing, and speaking skills, and engage in recreational activities.
With the funding from Salesian Missions, Salesians bought school supplies such as pencils, erasers, rulers and pens for the students to complete their examinations. Sports and recreational materials were distributed to 30 tuition centers for youth to improve both their mental and physical health. Teacher salaries were also supported at the centers.
Mela Eral is a village with 400 families who depend on the match box industry for their daily jobs, and Salesians are running a center at the church. Due to poverty, there has been an increase in the number of students who are dropping out of school. The students in the village are not able to study at home due to poor lighting and an often difficult learning atmosphere. The center supports to 200 underprivileged and deserving families in the village with 14 students attending the classes every day.
Six students who attend Don Bosco Technical Institute in Makati City, Philippines, were supported with their education thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. Five of the students are in the automotive program while the sixth student is taking the fitter machinist course. The students have completed their coursework and will advance to hands-on training with their graduation in September 2023.
Don Bosco Technical Institute was established in 1971 to provide poor and underprivileged youth with the skills training to find and retain employment. Today, the institute teaches close to 800 students in courses including automotive, machine shop, electrical and electronics, and printing.
The institute has also developed long-term partnerships with organizations that help ensure students are able to access on-the-job training and find employment once they graduate. Partnerships have been developed with Ford and Porsche, among others.
Nearly 1,400 people in Peru benefited from a donation from ASAP – Tools for Empowerment thanks to a partnership with Salesian Missions. Don Bosco Foundation received the donation and distributed it to seven Salesian organizations in 2022. Salesian organizations that received the donation include Bosconia Technical Education Center, Salesians in Piura, Salesian Polytechnic Education Center and Salesians in Monte Salvado, among others.
The donated tools and equipment have been used mostly by students in technical training centers. Students have access to them during the practical part of their training in courses focused on carpentry, automotive mechanics, electricity, industrial pattern making (textiles), metalworking and agriculture. The tools are also used for maintenance and gardening, and in the warehouse.
Students who have completed their training have also benefited from basic tool kits including hammers, pliers, screwdrivers and saws. Young Venezuelan migrants housed in the Magdalena Shelter benefited from baseball equipment for their recreational activities.
Youth with the City of Hope in Lusaka, Zambia, have soap and furniture thanks to donations received by Salesian Missions. The soap donation was provided by Eco-Soap Bank, a humanitarian nonprofit organization working to save, sanitize and supply recycled soap with hygiene education for the developing world. The furniture donation was provided by IRN (the Reuse Network), which matches surplus items with organizations and people who need them. Salesian sisters operate the City of Hope and received the donations in 2022.
Sister Mary John, who is in charge of City of Hope, said, “We received the donation of soap and then distributed it to the sisters, pupils, workers, teachers, women, youth, different congregations and those around the Salesian community. The furniture we shared with our Salesian schools in our community.”
She added, “The donations of soap and furniture have been very useful, and the quality of donations is excellent. Hygiene will always be a priority matter, and the furniture helps us further enhance our learning environment and facilities used by our staff and students. The children are so pleased and excited to use the new furniture and felt very special. We woud like to express our sincerest gratitude for the donations.”
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