WORLD YOUTH SKILLS DAY: Salesian Missions highlights life-changing training for poor youth
The Salesians are regarded as the single largest provider of vocational and technical training in the world.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (July 15, 2022) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and the international community in celebrating World Youth Skills Day, celebrated each year on July 15 since 2014. The United Nations designated the day as a way to bring greater awareness of the importance of technical and vocational education and training, as well as the development of other skills relevant to both local and global economies.
The theme for this year’s World Youth Skills Day is “Transforming youth skills for the future.” UNESCO International Center for Technical and Vocational Education and Training has noted, “The growing youth population, rising unemployment in many countries, changes in the labor market and in our economy due to technological developments are just some of the reasons why we must provide future generations with the entrepreneurial skills and mindsets they need to cope with a changing world.”
The Salesians are regarded as the single largest provider of vocational and technical training in the world. They offer more than 1,000 vocational, technical, professional and agricultural schools around the globe. This training provides youth with the practical skills to prepare for employment and helps them lead productive lives while becoming contributing adults in their communities. These programs go beyond educating. They also assist youth with making connections within industries and preparing them for the process of searching, finding and retaining employment.
“We know that access to education lays the foundation for a better future for all youth and that work must continue even as we face a global health crisis,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “In many countries around the globe where poverty is high and access to education is not universal, it is crucial that Salesian missionaries continue to offer technical and vocational training to as many youth as possible to ensure that they have access to long-term stable employment.”
To mark World Youth Skills Day 2022, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight technical and vocational programs that provide life-changing education and skills training for poor and at-risk youth.
Don Bosco Vocational Center, located in Mimboman, Cameroon, held an open house to showcase not only the diversity and quality of its training courses but also the skills acquired by students and apprentices. Students taking courses were able to highlight all that they have learned in 13 disciplines including carpentry, computer science, tailoring, and metallurgy. The open house also provided an opportunity for students to sell products and establish partnerships with other institutions.
The school provides education for vulnerable youth in the Mimboman neighborhood of Yaoundé. A three-story building includes 12 classrooms, laboratories and offices. A newer school building added in 2021 allows more students to attend and provides space for additional educational programs including a bachelor’s level course.
Last year, the school was able to buy 55 new computers, which enabled more students to enroll in the computer science class. “This is the first time that our students are learning computer science using a computer,” said Father Sabé José Maria, economer at the college, said at the time. “Our students have been studying computer science throughout the year without using a desktop or similar device. Now, we are thrilled that they can do so, and students are very excited about it.”
Don Bosco Ngangi, located in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, is working to transform the lives of youth who are at high risk of becoming victims of communal violence. In addition to the life skills and technical and vocational skills training youth receive, Don Bosco Ngangi also provides a suitable environment for forming good Christians and honest, upright citizens.
Since August 2021, 74 young ex-combatants and young girls and women who were collateral victims of community violence have been trained to become plumbers, bricklayers, hairdressers and beauticians. The goal is to reduce violence in the community and give young men a chance at a prosperous future through legitimate means so that they do not join armed groups to earn a living. Young girls and women are given a second chance at life after being victims of violence. At the end of the three months of training, these students will be citizens with the focus of reconciliation, peace and development.
Salesian missionaries offered training to assist refugees in gaining the skills needed for employment or self-employment in Egypt through the Sunrise Project for Cairo’s Urban Refugees and Vulnerable Hosts. The project is possible thanks to funding from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) through a Salesian technical and vocational training center in Cairo.
The project was first funded through Salesian Missions in 2014. To date, the project has improved the livelihoods and quality of life of more than 3,000 Sub-Saharan African, Yemeni and Syrian refugees and vulnerable Egyptians.
The Sunrise Project is popular among refugees with more than 2,000 applicants trying for the limited number of trainee openings. From the over 700 who were accepted and who completed baseline assessments, more than 500 received technical and vocational training. This led to 426 successful graduates from September 2020 to September 2021. In addition, 65 trainees received a seed grant and one-on-one mentoring, and 16 microentrepreneurs and past alumni received small business development grants.
In addition to financial support, the project also rented tables at three local bazaars so that microentrepreneurs could market their wares and services. These bazaars were particularly helpful for female microentrepreneurs who could display their sewing and handicrafts products or offer hairdressing or henna services. Fifteen beneficiaries participated across the three bazaars. Additionally, the markets enabled beneficiaries to distribute their business cards for networking and potential future customer sales.
Salesian missionaries have launched new short-term training courses for young men and women in Haiti who want to find employment in the construction industry to help rebuild collapsed houses after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake killed more than 2,000 people and left thousands injured and homeless on Aug. 14, 2021.
After the earthquake, thousands of people were left homeless and living in camps. Private organizations, religious congregations and volunteers provided humanitarian assistance to the victims in the absence of support from the state.
Agents from the Ministry of the Interior and Territorial Collectives identified houses to be demolished. Those that could be repaired received a yellow mark, and those that were intact according to inspectors were marked with green. The Armed Forces of Haiti and agents of the Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Communications demolished several buildings in the south, including schools, churches, and private homes. Reconstruction efforts have been slow and little has been rebuilt.
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