WORLD HEALTH DAY: Salesian Missions highlights programs for people in poverty
Salesian missionaries offer more than 150 medical clinics and hospitals around the globe.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (April 7, 2023) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian and other international organizations in honoring World Health Day on April 7. In 1948, the World Health Organization (WHO) held the First World Health Assembly and designated the day to mark the founding of WHO. The first World Health Day was held in 1950. Every year it serves as an opportunity to draw worldwide attention to a particular theme of importance related to global health.
This year celebrates 75 years since the first designation of the day and the theme is “Health for All.” The theme “envisions that all people have good health for a fulfilling life in a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.” According to WHO, 30 percent of the global population is not able to access essential health services, and almost 2 billion people face catastrophic or impoverishing health spending, with significant inequalities affecting those in the most vulnerable settings.
WHO noted, “To make health for all a reality, we need: individuals and communities who have access to high-quality health services so that they can take care of their own health and that of their families; skilled health workers providing quality, people-centered care; and policy-makers committed to investing in universal health coverage.”
Salesian missionaries offer more than 150 medical clinics and hospitals in mostly rural areas around the globe that serve a wide range of medical care needs. In many countries with Salesian programs, dental care and other necessary health services are offered to poor youth and their families who might otherwise have no access to health care.
“While Salesians are primarily focused on education, they also provide other services that meet basic needs including health programs,” said Father Timothy Ploch, interim director of Salesian Missions. “Salesians aim to serve the whole person by making sure that health needs are met and this is especially important in communities where there are few resources.”
On World Health Day 2023, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight medical and health programs that provide critical services to those living in poverty.
Salesian centers in Sangradouro and Meruri, Brazil, were host to 41 medical students and doctors from the University Center Faculty of Medicine in Santos. This was the 14th expedition of the Academic Project of Assistance to Indigenous Peoples (PAAPI), which started in 2009. The project provided medical clinics for Xavante Indigenous people in Sangradouro and Bororo Indigenous people in Meruri.
In Sangradouro, volunteers organized a health clinic and administered medicines and treatments, while another group played with the children. On the second day, the volunteers split into groups to make home visits. They also finished seeing patients at the health clinic and spent more time with the children.
In Meruri, students organized and sorted medicines to be dropped off at the Salesian health center, while project leaders did a sweep of the village grounds to map houses. Volunteers also organized various games for the children. The following day, volunteers washed the hair of youth who were suffering from parasites. More home visits also took place.
Salesian missionaries have launched a modernization project for Afia Don Bosco Polyclinic in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo*. Built in 1987, the Salesian health clinic provides health care to people living in Lubumbashi. After more than 30 years in operation, the clinic is now in a position to expand and upgrade its facilities.
At a launch event, Father Ghislain Kaya, general director of Afia Don Bosco Polyclinic, and Father Guillermo Basañes, superior of the Mary Most Holy Assumption of Central Africa Province, laid the foundation stone that launches the new construction.
In his speech, Fr. Basañes highlighted that the time had come to modernize the health facility to provide quality health care, and he highlighted the work of Salesians in this region. Fr. Kaya explained the new modernization plan and introduced the construction company that will do the work for the next nine months.
Don Bosco Prafulta Center for Psychological Wellness recently held an event called “Celebration of Feeling” focused on mental health. The event was held at St. Dominic Savio, located in Andheri, a locality in the western part of Mumbai, India. Children from nearby neighborhoods, who don’t normally have access to mental health activities, learned how to handle difficult emotions like anger, sadness, nervousness and fear. They were able to express their emotions through art, painting, storytelling, dance and movement, a graffiti corner, pottery, and more.
A parenting program and career guidance were provided for adults. Additional activities were designed to promote productive thinking and creativity and help people stay positive in life. Parents also had opportunities to learn advanced leadership, problem-solving and creative skills.
Father Godfrey D’Sa, founder and executive director of Prafulta Center for Psychological Wellness, said, “We have mental health care for children, teens and families. Our focus as mental health caregivers is to restore dignity and hope and be compassionate, destigmatize mental health, and encourage people to access help and treatment available in order to live life in all its fullness.”
Salesian missionaries in Ukraine have medical supplies and rice-meals to aid people thanks to donations secured and shipped by Salesian Missions. Salesians living and working in Ukraine* have remained in their centers and churches where they are helping families with shelter, support, and nutrition. The donations impacted more than 1,000 people.
The medical supply donation was provided by Matter, an organization that provides valuable corporate surplus to the places and people who need these life-saving resources the most. The medical supplies were provided to the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of the Eastern Rite in Ukraine and then dispersed to the Salesian community in Zhytomyr, among other sites. The supplies are being used in local hospitals and for people in need.
Along with the medical supply shipment, Salesian Missions also sent a container of rice-meals from Feed My Starving Children, a nonprofit Christian organization committed to “feeding God’s children hungry in body and spirit.” The food is destined for poor residents of towns and villages in eastern Ukraine, where food is needed most.
*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.
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