INT’L DAY OF INNOCENT CHILDREN VICTIMS OF AGGRESSION: Salesian programs support youth facing traumatic situations
Day acknowledges pain suffered by children who are victims of physical, mental and emotional abuse.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (June 4, 2023) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and the international community in honoring International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression. Recognized on June 4 each year since its United Nations designation in 1982, the day acknowledges the pain suffered by children throughout the world who are the victims of physical, mental and emotional abuse.
The day also affirms the commitment by the U.N. and the international community to protect the rights of children. This work is guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most rapidly and widely ratified international human rights treaty in history.
International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression honors the millions of individuals and organizations working to protect and preserve the rights of children. Through education and social development programming, Salesian missionaries in more than 130 countries around the globe work to ensure that all youth know their rights, are able to fully participate in their communities, and receive the support they need in the aftermath of trauma and abuse.
Whether it’s providing social support, combating child labor, or assisting the homeless, Salesian missionaries are on the front lines educating youth on their rights and ensuring access to programs and services they need. Working in more than 5,500 Salesian educational institutions and youth centers around the world, missionaries educate children in some of the poorest places on the planet.
Father Timothy Ploch, interim director of Salesian Missions, said, “Salesian missionaries offer support to child abuse victims, help rehabilitate child soldiers and street children, and provide education on child rights to ensure that youth have a sense of self-worth and hope for a better future.”
In honor of International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression, Salesian Missions highlights programs helping children who are facing trauma.
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 at Christmas.
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.
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.
Salesian missionaries, in collaboration with the Salesian Provincial Prevention Council, held a “Basic Abuse Prevention Training” course in Puerto Montt, Chile. The training follows the guidelines of the abuse prevention program issued by the Bishops’ Conference of Chile. Close to 100 people, including teachers, educational assistants, and pastoral staff from the Cristo Salvador Parish, took the course.
The training was configured in four modules including sexual abuse in the Universal and Chilean Church, basic elements for understanding sexual abuse and the church’s approach, introduction to sexual abuse in civil and canonical justice, and sexual abuse prevention.
Freddy Araya, the trainer of the course, said, “The commitment of the Salesian Congregation and local communities continues to be reaffirmed through these activities, since the issue of abuse and its prevention is of great importance for the future of society and the church, and together we must confront it.”
Salesians with Don Bosco Tech Africa in Nigeria are providing training about safeguarding and protecting children. Brother John Njuguna, deputy director of Don Bosco Tech Africa, in collaboration with Catherine Kisasa and Sister Damaris, is conducting the training for Salesian rectors and the provincial council.
One Salesian said, “Child safeguarding and protection are important in our daily work given that we are working with young people who are in most cases coming from disadvantaged backgrounds. The trainers were excited about the diverse methodologies. It was well attended and an eye-opener for all involved.”
Salesians work with abandoned children in two centers in Nigeria. One is in Lagos, opened in 2018, and the other is Ibadan, opened in 2009. These centers are changing the lives of hundreds of children who are trafficked, abused, orphaned, in conflict with the law or are facing addiction. Through scholarships and grants, Salesians are able to ensure that youth have a stable foundation and gain an education.
Since the beginning of the war, Salesian missionaries have been supporting children and families who remained in Ukraine* and those who fled to neighboring countries for protection. Salesians in Poland and Slovakia, among those in other countries, have welcomed refugees and provided shelter, food, medical support and education. Convoys of medical aid have also left Poland to help Salesians who are sheltering people in Ukraine.
Thanks to the aid received, some Salesian schools in Ukraine have been able to remain open and provide education in emergency situations by building shelters and providing support for water, electricity and gas supplies. There is also some psychological support for students, teachers and families, while some school costs are being covered.
Sixty-six Salesian organizations from five continents have supported more than 100 projects. Projects include the construction of emergency shelters, support to refugees abroad and internally displaced persons, and educational programs and activities for children and youth.
*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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