NIGERIA: Salesian Missions funds care for former street children
Salesian Missions provides funding to help support ongoing work at the Don Bosco Child Protection Center in Lagos.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Feb. 9, 2021) The Don Bosco Child Protection Center in Lagos, Nigeria, is able to provide ongoing support for 25 boys thanks to funding received from Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. The center provides care for boys, ages 7 to 15, who were living on the streets, had faced physical abuse in their homes or were rescued from child trafficking.
The funding from Salesian Missions provided tuition and skills training, counseling and psychological care, medical care, and clothing for the boys. Some funding also went to support the operational expenses of the center for such items as fuel, internet access, stationery and toiletries.
With the high rate of domestic violence, child abuse, poverty and negative environmental influences, many youth are living on the streets in Lagos and fighting to survive. Many have turned to crime, drug abuse and other risky behavior. These youth have been denied the opportunity of proper parental training, family love and even education. The Don Bosco Child Protection Center supports these youth, bringing them off the streets, giving them access to education and skills training, and instilling hope for a brighter future.
“Because Lagos is a major city, there are many youth who come looking for greener pastures including some who have run away and think they will find work and money,” said Father Augustine Okeke, director of the Don Bosco Child Protection Center. “Once they get to Lagos, they realize they have nothing and end up living on the streets. We help them by creating a family for them so they feel loved and supported. They have a safe place to live and gain an education and skills.”
Youth are first met on the streets in their own environment and provided moral and psychological support. After the first contact, the center collaborates with the rescue team, which includes police, the child protection office, welfare and the court, to bring youth to the Don Bosco Child Protection Center. The center is run by Salesian staff including two social workers, two teachers, a counselor, house staff, and administrative staff.
Once youth are in the Don Bosco Child Protection Center, they are provided counseling, skills training and daily support. The goal is to help prepare them for the next stage of life. Family reunification takes place later if it is possible. Salesian staff work with the family and each boy to help reintegrate him into family life and then follow up with the family to ensure that all is well and address ongoing challenges.
According to UNICEF, Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and the ninth most populous country in the world. By United Nations estimates, Nigeria will be one of the countries responsible for most of the world’s total population increase by 2050. While Nigeria has the second strongest economy in Africa, it also has extreme rates of poverty with 100 million people living on less than $1 a day.
About 64 percent of households in Nigeria consider themselves to be poor while 32 percent of households say their economic situation had worsened over a period of one year, according to UNICEF. Poverty still remains one of the most critical challenges facing the country and population growth rates have meant a steady increase in the number of people living in conditions of poverty.
Contact: [email protected]