Author: Salesian Missions

Publication Date: February 26, 2024

SIERRA LEONE: Vulnerable youth have new chapel through Salesian Missions

Don Bosco Fambul is leading provider of child-welfare programs.

NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Feb 26, 2024) Youth at Don Bosco Fambul in Freetown, one of Sierra Leone’s leading child-welfare organizations, have a new chapel thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. Don Bosco Fambul provides a range of programs to support youth who are living on the streets, girls who have faced sexual abuse, young women who have been forced into prostitution and youth in trouble with the law.

A Salesian missionary at Don Bosco Fambul noted, “The Don Bosco chapel in Don Bosco Fambul’s Child Protection Center provides a safe and nurturing environment where youth can find comfort, solace and hope. Many of the youth who come to the center have suffered physical, emotional or sexual abuse and are traumatized by their experiences.”

Before the chapel, Salesians were holding Catholic Mass in the corridors of the building, By providing a chapel within the center’s facilities, youth now have a designated space where they can reflect, meditate and receive spiritual guidance. The chapel provides a peaceful and calming environment, which can aid in the healing process. It also offers a sense of community where youth can connect with caring adults and their peers, developing a sense of belonging essential for their well-being.

The Salesian added, “The chapel also provides a space for staff, volunteers and supporters who understand the importance of helping youth who have been through such difficult times, allowing them to experience a sense of hope and comfort. The chapel will complete the therapy center and give staff a place to reflect during their breaks. Their mental health while doing this critical work is as important as that of the youth we serve.”

Don Bosco Fambul social workers go out to the streets, poor neighborhoods, and marketplaces to engage with vulnerable youth and encourage them to join Don Bosco Fambul’s programs. The organization has four large buildings, a clinic, accommodations for volunteers and social workers, a house for the Salesian community, and the chapel. The Child Protection Center, where the chapel is located, currently serves 125 young men who stay an average of three months.

One of the beneficiaries is Osman, who experienced child trafficking and was intercepted along the Sierra Leone-Guinean border. The whereabouts of his parent are unknown. Osman takes the auto mechanic’s course at the Don Bosco garage, and Salesians have been impressed with his commitment to skills training.

Another beneficiary is Musa, who had been living with his father and mother in the eastern part of Sierra Leone. After his father’s sudden death, he came to Freetown because his mother could

not provide for him. He ended up living with his elderly sister who forced him into child labor. He left to live on the street and survived for more than a year washing dishes and sleeping in market stalls. Staff of the mobile unit at Don Bosco Fambul found him and brought him into the group home. Musa is now honing his skills in welding and improving every day.

In addition to the youth and staff at Don Bosco Fambul who will use the chapel, it is also open to the more than 2,000 in the village community. While nearly 80% are Muslim, because of the pastoral work of the Salesians, they will join the congregation for prayers, especially on Sundays.

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