INT’L DAY OF HAPPINESS: Salesian Missions highlights programs that empower youth, giving them a sense of well-being and happiness
For youth to be happy, they must have their basic needs met and feel a sense of well-being.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (March 20, 2023) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and countries around the globe in celebrating International Day of Happiness, which falls each year on March 20. In 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution that recognized happiness as a “fundamental human goal” and called for “a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes the happiness and well-being of all people.”
The day is coordinated by Action for Happiness, a nonprofit movement of people from 160 countries, and is supported by a partnership of like-minded organizations. It was founded as a way to inspire, mobilize and advance the global happiness movement. In 2015, the U.N. launched the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that seek to end poverty, reduce inequality and protect the planet — three key aspects that lead to well-being and happiness.
Each year, International Day of Happiness focuses on a particular theme. This year the theme is “Mindful. Grateful. Kind” and reinforces simple steps that can be used anytime and anywhere to give yourself a boost and build compassion for others.
“For youth to be happy, they must have their basic needs met and feel a sense of well-being,” said Father Timothy Ploch, interim director of Salesian Missions. “Salesian missionaries meet the basic needs of disadvantaged and at-risk youth who often have nowhere else to turn. They provide education and skills training in addition to social and workforce development services to ensure a positive transition into adulthood. They also teach soft skills so youth can better connect with their peers and be contributing members of their community.”
In celebration of International Day of Happiness 2023, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight Salesian programs that educate and empower youth.
Children at Foyer Don Bosco (Don Bosco Kandi), a home for abused and abandoned children in Kandi, Benin, have their needs met thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. The funding covered food for three months, school fees for 10 children and clothing for 50 children.
Leon Kansomede, age 8, was appreciative of the clothing he received. He said, “I celebrated Christmas well at Don Bosco Kandi and received beautiful clothes and had a nice party. Thank you and may the Lord bless you.”
Kaifatou Tino is a sewing apprentice who had her school fees paid so she could continue her education. “I thank Don Bosco for the financial help. It has enabled me to remain in school and have hope for the future.”
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.
More than 360 youth received nutritional support at Don Bosco Kansebula, located in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo*, thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. Youth benefiting from this food were ages 6-22. Many are are in secondary school and college as well as 82 young Salesians studying at Don Bosco Kansebula. Single mothers from the villages also received this donation. The goal was to provide ongoing balanced nutrition for young Salesians and other vulnerable youth.
Don Bosco Kansebula also has a 44-hectare farm that supplies food for the Salesian formation house and to the village nearby. Since its beginning, Don Bosco Kansebula has provided young Salesians with philosophy education and has given them shelter and nutritional support while at the school. Villagers living near Don Bosco Kansebula have used the farm to cultivate food for themselves and the community.
One of the beneficiaries was Kyundundu Mbilizi Fabrice, who is 25 and in high school. Fabrice said, “I studied agriculture in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo at Uvira. Now, I am at Kansebula as a Salesian of Don Bosco in post-novitiate. At Kansebula, we have a garden and we produce vegetables and keep some domesticated animals. Villages and confreres have benefited from what is produced in the garden and in the farm as well. I am really happy for what our benefactors are doing for us in order to fight hunger and I encourage them to continue in that direction.”
Children living at the Ekalavya Children’s Home were supported by donor funding from Salesian Missions. The home was created by the Salesian-run People’s Action for Rural Awakening for disadvantaged children in Konaseema, located in the East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh, India.
The home, which can accommodate up to 50 children, was started to support school dropouts, rescue child laborers, and provide a home for at-risk children, those living on the street, or those who have run away from dysfunctional families. Ekalavya Children’s Home is a child care institution licensed under the Juvenile Justice Act. Every home for children at risk needs to be licensed by the Women Development and Child Welfare Department of the state government.
Ekalavya Children’s Home is located behind a railway station in Rajahmundry. Children who have run away use the railway station for travel and to beg for money to survive. Salesian staff members have good relationships with the railway police department to rescue children from the station and bring them to the courts and then onto the Ekalavya Children’s Home.
While providing for basic needs and connecting children into educational programs, Ekalavya Children’s Home also helps children understand their emotions and connect better with their peers and adults. The home provides a weekly meeting where children can talk about issues that are bothering them, whether it’s with other children, school or adults. This helps children work through interpersonal issues and helps them resolve conflict in a productive way.
Salesian missionaries provide social development and educational services to poor youth and their families in centers in Lahore and Quetta, Pakistan. Salesian schools provide economic benefits, scholarships and accommodations for students from the poorest families so that education is not only accessible but also an incentive for parents to send their children to school.
Pakistan has one of the lowest literacy rates in South Asia at less than 50 percent. Although the country’s constitution acknowledges free and compulsory education for children and youth between the ages of 5-16, the rule is often not followed in rural areas for those over age 13.
Salesians have a particular focus on ensuring that young girls are able to start and continue their education. Unfortunately, many girls abandon their studies before the end of compulsory schooling to take care of their families or because of early marriage. This happens in both villages and large urban centers such as Lahore. Some families believe that early marriage will solve the family’s economic challenges.
To help combat this, Salesians provide training programs focused on educating girls and young women about their rights with the aim of creating and spreading awareness and self-determination. Salesians encourage girls and young women to continue their studies. They also organize courses to impart knowledge and skills aimed at learning a trade. One of the students said, “If we study, we can have a brighter future.”
*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.
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