WORLD DAY OF PEACE: Salesian Missions highlights programs for poor youth around the globe
Salesian missionaries provide programs to youth and families in poverty regardless of gender, race, or religion.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Jan. 1, 2023) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins Catholic organizations around the globe in honoring the Catholic World Day of Peace. Every year on Jan. 1, the Pope marks the day with a special message inviting all people to reflect on the important work of building peace. Pope Paul VI established the day in 1967, after he was inspired by the encyclical “Pacem in Terris” of Pope John XXIII and with reference to his own encyclical “Populorum Progressio”. The day was first observed on Jan. 1, 1968.
Pope Francis focused his message for the day on the theme “No one can be saved alone. Combating COVID-19 together, embarking together on paths of peace” and called on everyone to reflect on their connection with others.
In his message, Pope Francis wrote, “Certainly, after directly experiencing the fragility of our own lives and the world around us, we can say that the greatest lesson we learned from COVID-19 was the realization that we all need one another. That our greatest and yet most fragile treasure is our shared humanity as brothers and sisters, children of God. And that none of us can be saved alone. Consequently, we urgently need to join together in seeking and promoting the universal values that can guide the growth of this human fraternity.”
Salesian missionaries provide social development and educational programs around the globe to youth and families in poverty regardless of gender, race, or religion. They are on the forefront of trying to level the playing field for poor youth so that they have the support needed to gain an education and the skills for future employment.
To mark Catholic World Day of Peace 2023, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight programs around the globe that provide life-changing education.
Children at Foyer Don Bosco, a home for abused and abandoned children in Kandi, Benin, had their needs met thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. The funding covered new clothing for 30 children. Additional funding provided food support for 36 children, as well as cleaning products and medicines for the infirmary. Ten girls and boys have also benefited from the purchase of toolboxes for various trades.
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.
Orphans attending Don Bosco Shasha, located in the Mupfunya Shanga-Shasha village in the Democratic Republic of the Congo*, received support through donor funding from Salesian Missions. The funding paid teachers’ salaries and covered the cost of school fees for 55 orphans, including 23 girls, whose families could not afford schooling.
The Masisi Territory is facing armed conflicts and is one of the worst areas of violence. Conflicts have increased the number of orphans and displaced people within the territory. When conditions are too hard and incomes are low, many families remove their children from school because they do not see it as a necessary expense.
The students receiving funding through this project were selected because they have benefited from counseling and additional psychological support. Many of them have continued on with their education despite facing depression and anxiety. Salesians have paid for their schooling as well as additional social support and psychological care.
One of the students, Buuma Bihira Phélicien, is from a family of five children, of which three of them have died. The father also passed away last year leaving the family with little support. Phélicien said, “After my father passed, I was told I had to leave school but the Salesians supported me. My mother sells bananas. It’s a small business that feeds us, but she couldn’t pay for our schooling after the death of our father. Father Kizito, director of Don Bosco Shasha, helped us a lot and he told us that there are benefactors from Salesian Missions who have supported us during this year, offering us free education. I thank all the benefactors who have supported us. I hope that this will continue because if the support ends, I will be forced to abandon my studies.”
Fifty young women who live at the Salesian Surakshita Home, located in the town of Ravulapalem in Andhra Pradesh, India, were supported through donor funding from Salesian Missions. Surakshita Home provides living facilities for young women who have been in legal trouble. There are dorms, bathrooms, a dining hall, a work room and a training hall.
The funding, which provided support from March to October 2022, was used for empowering women with information about their rights, along with skills training in tailoring, Maggam and other handicrafts. Funds were also used for the purchase of training materials.
When young women enter the program, they are given clothing and proper nutrition. They are sent for a medical examination, and women with special health needs receive individual follow-up care. They are also able to access a counselor and legal support for their cases in court.
During eight months, 50 women completed the tailoring course and some found jobs at tailoring shops. Others were able to do dress making and embroidery work for themselves and for others. Twenty of the women were given tailoring machines to earn an income and sustain themselves. At the end of the training and their time at Surakshita Home, 13 women were able to reintegrate back with their families.
Women and children in Salesian communities in Haiti had access to better hygiene thanks to a soap donation secured by Salesian Missions. The shipment of soap was from Eco-Soap Bank, a humanitarian nonprofit organization working to save, sanitize and supply recycled soap with hygiene education for the developing world.
The Rinaldi Foundation, the Salesian Planning and Development Office in Haiti, received the soap and distributed it. The first distribution was held on Mother’s Day to honor the mothers in the community. Salesians chose to prioritize mothers for the first distribution and included soap in the bags that were given out at church. The soap was used for hand-washing, bathing, washing clothes and dishes, and other uses.
After the initial donation, soap was provided to children and older youth who are attending Salesian programs and schools including Fondation Vincent, Don Bosco Lakay OPEPB (the Little Schools of Fr. Bohnen), and the Salesian Diocesan Center of Arts and Trades (CDAM).
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*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.