UNIVERSAL CHILDREN’S DAY: Salesian Missions highlights social and educational programs ‘
With more than 5,500 Salesian educational institutions and youth centers, missionaries educate children in some of the poorest places on the planet.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Nov. 20, 2022) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and countries around the globe in recognizing Universal Children’s Day, also known as World Children’s Day. Celebrated each year on Nov. 20, the day was established in 1954 to promote international togetherness and awareness on children’s issues worldwide. To date, 194 countries have signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and are bound by international law to ensure it is implemented.
The theme for this year is “Inclusion, For Every Child.” UNICEF noted, “From climate change, education and mental health, to ending racism and discrimination, children and young people are raising their voices on the issues that matter to their generation and calling for adults to create a better future.”
Through education and social development programming, Salesian missionaries in more than 130 countries around the globe are working to break the cycle of poverty and bring a sense of dignity to all those they serve. Missionaries are also working to ensure that all youth know their rights, are able to fully participate in their communities and have their voices heard.
Whether it’s combating child labor, assisting homeless youth or building schools where children previously had no access to education, Salesian missionaries are making sure those in need have access to programs and services. With more than 5,500 Salesian educational institutions and youth centers, missionaries are educating children in some of the poorest places on the planet.
“Children living in conditions of poverty need equal access to education and social supports to ensure they have a bright productive future,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “At Salesian schools, youth gain an education, learn about their rights and freedoms, and participate in sports and other activities — all in a safe environment that encourages learning and growth. They also have access to nutritional and other support that enhance the learning environment.”
In honor of Universal Children’s Day, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight social and educational programs that benefit children around the globe.
Salesian missionaries are concerned about child malnutrition in the Xavante villages in the municipality of Nova Xavantina in Campinápolis, Brazil. A lack of rain, poor food, hygiene conditions and the length of distance to travel to urban centers were identified as the causes that most affect the situation.
In each of these villages, food kits were distributed to children. Provided by Operation Mato Grosso, the kits contained food purchased by volunteers and sent by benefactors from the Immaculate Conception Parish in the city of Bilac. The most worrisome cases of malnutrition were recorded in the village of Teihidzatsé where children were checked for weight. Vitamins were administered in the most severe cases.
In addition, a soup kitchen was set up in Santa Helena to provide meals with vegetables, pasta, and ground meat. In Betânia, clothes, food, and hygiene materials for infants prepared by the Campinápolis Children’s Pastoral Care team were distributed. The AMA (Mobile Missionary Assistance) project team is providing maintenance and efficiency of water wells, pumps, and tanks in São Francisco, and food items were also distributed.
Students from the St. Anne Orphanage were granted scholarships to attend Don Bosco Vithayalai in Battambang, Cambodia, thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. The scholarships were provided in February 2022 and May 2021.
Children attending Salesian schools in Cambodia have faced a number of issues including abandonment from their families, abuse, child labor and trafficking, and migration. As a result, they often miss school and fall behind academically. Salesian schools ensure that young students are able to attend school even if they are unable to pay for it.
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.
Students at the Don Bosco Learning Center, within the Don Bosco Quetta community in Pakistan, have a new digital computer lab thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. The center has been teaching primary and secondary school in Quetta since 2000. More than 780 students, ages 8-22, were positively impacted by this new lab.
The funding provided new computers, a projector, printers, a computer table, chairs, and Wi-Fi connection. Teachers are beginning to develop classes for Microsoft Word, Adobe Photoshop, networking, graphic design and web design.
The Don Bosco Learning Center is teaching computer literacy skills and technology to students. The lab will be used for daily classes for grades 3 to 10. In the evening, computer classes for other students and those in the community will be held. Salesians in Quetta also have a long tradition of assisting Afghan refugees. This project will also enable refugees to learn skills after they are settled.
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