ANGOLA: More than 6,000 students have access to education and social programs at the Salesian mission in Lixeira

By at April 6, 2019 | 8:32 am | Print

ANGOLA: More than 6,000 students have access to education and social programs at the Salesian mission in Lixeira

(MissionNewswire) More than 6,000 students are gaining an education in Salesian primary and secondary schools in Lixeira, the area once the landfill for the city of Luanda, Angola. Lixeira today is populated with more than 25,000 people who live in makeshift homes and are constantly searching for food and how to meet their most basic needs.

After the years of the bloody civil war, Angola is now one of the African countries with the highest rate of economic development. But the economic and social contrasts are always present. In Luanda, the downtown skyline is a succession of glittering skyscrapers, but the outskirts of the city tell a much different story. It is in the outskirts in Lixeira that Salesian missionaries are working to meet the needs of the people and provide education for youth to prepare them for the workforce or higher education.

The Salesian schools’ classrooms are not big enough to accommodate all the students at once. There are three shifts each day for students to attend class. The youngest start at 7:30 a.m. followed by the middle school students in the afternoon. The secondary (high) school students finish at 10.30 p.m. Every five hours, thousands of children take turns to study at the same school desks.

In addition to the school, Salesian sisters operate a health center and a nursery for the smallest children. There is also vocational training for youth who want to learn a trade. The Salesian mission also offers programs for street children and a church parish with five chapels located in the most distant districts. Here, more than 5,000 children attend catechesis.

“At-risk children, teenagers and young adults across Angola are achieving in the classroom and through alternative programs that fit their specific needs,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “The goal of Salesian missionaries is to have youth participate in programs that promote social inclusion, emotional development and access to education.”

Salesian missionaries first arrived in Angola in the 1980s, answering the appeal of the Rector Major of the time, Father Egidio Viganò. Today, there are 110 Salesians, 40 of whom are active in pastoral ministry and 70 in initial formation including facilitating educational and social programs.

Salesian missionaries in Angola have been rebuilding infrastructure that was damaged during the civil war in the country that lasted from 1975 to 2002. Much was destroyed during the conflict including schools, medical buildings and churches. Living within the communities in which they work, Salesian missionaries have been perfectly positioned to respond to local needs and lead projects for community betterment.

During the civil war, educational disparities were widespread but recent reforms have paved the way for more youth to have better access to education and social equality. According to UNICEF, more than 36 percent of the population lives in poverty. In addition, more than one in 10 children under the age of 14 has lost one or both parents and 43,000 are separated from their families. As a result, nearly a third of these children are working and child trafficking has become an emerging problem in the country.

With a 67 percent illiteracy rate, the educational opportunities provided by Salesian programs can be truly life changing. Through these programs, both youth and adults have access to schools and educational programs. Classes range from simple lessons in reading and writing for adults in refugee camps to shelter and education for street children. Students are also able to access life skills training, workforce development opportunities and nutrition programs.

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Sources:

ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS)

ANS ‒ Angola – Salesian presence in Lixeira district, alongside the young

Mission Don Bosco

Angola OTHER Salesian News (not SM specific)

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