Author: Salesian Missions

Publication Date: December 03, 2022

INT’L DAY OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: Salesian Missions highlights social and educational programs that promote inclusion

Almost 1 billion people living with a disability, according to the World Health Organization.

NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Dec. 3, 2022) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and countries around the globe in honoring International Day of People with Disabilities. Since its inception in 1945, the United Nations has outlined and reiterated its commitment to calling for the creation of inclusive, accessible, and sustainable societies and communities. In 1981, the U.N. proclaimed Dec. 3 as a recognized day for the celebration of the achievements of people living with disabilities across the world.

Almost 1 billion people, or 15 percent of the world’s population, are living with a disability, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) World Report on Disability. Nearly 250 million are living with a mental or neurological condition, and almost two-thirds of these people will not seek professional medical help, largely due to stigma, discrimination, and neglect.

This year’s theme “Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fueling an accessible and equitable world” focuses on innovation for inclusive development in the areas of employment, reducing inequality, and sport as a practice example.

“Children living in poverty with a disability are even less likely to attend school and have the same opportunities as their peers,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “Salesian programs around the globe facilitate social and educational projects that pave the way for advanced research, learning and innovation that aid the inclusion of people with disabilities.”

Salesian Missions is proud to highlight Salesian programs that advance inclusivity for people with disabilities on International Day of People with Disabilities 2022.


Don Bosco University in San Salvador, El Salvador, is empowering the next generation of medical rehabilitation practitioners to transform the lives of people with mobile disabilities through its “Walking Anew!” project. This project was made possible thanks to a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (USAID/ASHA) program secured by Salesian Missions.

The project expanded and upgraded the facilities at Don Bosco University’s School of Rehabilitation Science and the equipment used to train medical rehabilitation professionals. Completed in June 2022, it is revolutionizing the field of rehabilitation science across Latin America with a new laboratory and research annex, modern technology, and extending the reach of Don Bosco University School of Rehabilitation Science through an expanded distance learning program.

The construction of the new building, which houses the Applied Research Center, allows for the exchange of information with professionals in the field at an international level as well as provides space for a new podiatry laboratory and other specialized practices. The program has already trained people from El Salvador, other countries in Central America, South America, Haiti, Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 2022, the project was also able to train students in Uganda through the distance learning program.


Don Bosco Job Placement Network in India, through collaboration with Bangalore Rural Education and Development Society (BREADS), organized a job fair for employment seekers with disabilities. Working with Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled, Don Bosco Job Placement Network held the job fair at Bell Hotel Majestic for more than 100 candidates with varying levels of ability.

At the job fair, Quess Corp. Pvt. Ltd. Bangalore recruited candidates for jobs in warehousing, business process outsourcing and e-commerce, and logistics (packing and billing). The Don Bosco Job Placement Network coordinator and the Quess team assisted the candidates in career counseling and by explaining the job roles. Of nearly 40 candidates who applied for the various jobs, 12 received immediate offers and others were shortlisted for future placement.

The Don Bosco Job Placement Network aims to improve employment opportunities for underserved job seekers through career guidance and skills training. The organization also enables access to secure job markets through job referral services, ensuring retention, and improving quality job opportunities with adequate wages and decent, safe, and secure working conditions.


People living with spinal cord injuries will have a new treatment center thanks to funding Salesian Missions received from USAID’s ASHA program for the “Raising Standards of Care for Spinal Cord Injury Patients” project. The project will construct and equip Mexico’s first comprehensive treatment and rehabilitation center to assist patients who have been paralyzed by spinal cord injuries, with a special focus on youth.

The project runs from October 2018 through the end of September 2023. Construction is currently underway. The Latin American Center for the Treatment of Spinal Cord Injuries, which will be built in Guadalajara, will be the only center in Mexico dedicated to serving the target population. The treatment center aims to promote the American values of equal access and opportunity by empowering young people with spinal cord injuries with the physical independence and renewed self-esteem needed to actively participate in society.

The state-of-the-art treatment and rehabilitation center will be equipped with cutting-edge technology and innovative resources. In addition to treating patients, the center will also generate and disseminate new science and technology. Within its first four years, it is anticipated that the center will treat 500 patients with spinal cord injuries, mainly youth and young adults between the ages of 12-35 who live in poverty and in a state of high vulnerability.


Cadiz Virgili Don Bosco, a five-a-side soccer club founded at the Don Bosco Institute in Cadiz, Spain, expanded its sports-educational offerings with a team dedicated to people with disabilities known as the Eyser team. The team launched in 2021. Training for team members takes place free of charge on Mondays and Wednesdays at the Don Bosco Institute.

The team’s name honors George Eyser, the first Olympic athlete with a disability, who won six medals as a gymnast. The Eyser team was an initiative of the Don Bosco team’s coaches, Teresa Atero and Néstor Villegas, and has received the support of the Don Bosco Polideportivo Club and of the five-a-side soccer team Cadiz Virgili Futsal.

Cadiz Virgili Don Bosco currently has several teams engaged in tournaments and training. The teams are run by qualified and certified coaches who, with the support of the Salesian community, promote the individual care and development of athletes.

Salesian Father Rafael Cazorla, coordinator of the Salesian sports club, added, “We want to achieve greater integration in sport. It is very important to work in this direction and that is why we want this team to continue to grow and be able to compete in tournaments in the near future.”


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