ANGOLA: Salesian missionaries are developing a new shelter for young single mothers in Luanda
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries are currently developing a special project for single mothers living on the streets in Luanda, Angola. They are renovating a building for young women to live in and receive services with the goal of creating a safe shelter where participants are guaranteed protection and warmth.
Every year, this new project will be able to provide shelter for up to 20 underage single mothers. Once at the shelter, they will be able to access medical and psychological assistance and vocational training courses. Family reunification will be made possible when appropriate.
“There are many barriers to education for young girls, especially underage single mothers, but Salesian programs around the globe work to eliminate those barriers and provide supportive services and education to all,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Salesian missionaries have seen that young girls who are able to access safety, shelter and education are more often able to achieve financial independence and make better and healthier choices that affect not only themselves, but their families and communities as well.”
Salesian missionaries began their work with street children in the 1990s when groups of children fleeing the war that tore the country apart for almost 30 years flowed into the capital. Today, long after the war has ended, children are still fleeing their homes for a variety of reasons. Many run away from home because of parent neglect, some as a result of abuse and others because they are thought to be sorcerers or witches who bring misfortune to their families.
Once on the street, these children wander from neighborhood to neighborhood, sleep wherever possible and survive thanks to small jobs like shining shoes, washing windows and carrying bags. Many girls end up prostituting themselves and virtually everyone inhales gasoline and glue to calm the pangs of hunger and find relief from solitude and a sense of emptiness.
Salesian missionaries create shelters and programs where street children are safe and can receive the care they need including rehabilitation and reunification with their families when possible.
Salesian missionaries in Angola have been rebuilding infrastructure that was damaged during a 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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UNICEF – Angola