ANGOLA: Youth becomes role model of resilience
Salesian ‘A New Beginning’ program helps youth in conflict with the law
(MissionNewswire) The Salesian-run “A New Beginning” program, in Luanda, Angola, protects and promotes the rights of children in conflict with the law. It is co-funded by the European Union and involves the collaboration of several organizations and institutions, both national and international. The program currently works with 208 youth, with 58 youth on probation, 83 taking part in community service, 28 with social protection measures and 39 awaiting a court decision.
Among the many activities involved in the project, youth and their families participate in workshops where youth tell personal stories of resilience and new beginnings. There is a focus on personal development, drawing and parenting skills. The goals of the program are family reintegration and the start of a new life through training and social skills.
One of the success stories of the program is Paulo Cayeye, who started having trouble with the law when he was 10 years old. His family was saddened because he spent most of his days on the streets, hanging out with people who introduced him to drugs, and committing crimes. Cayeye spent nearly two years in a detoxification center and saw a friend killed during a robbery.
His life changed thanks to the Salesian program. Today he is a role model for many youth and their families. Of his early life, Cayeye said, “I had a very turbulent and dangerous life because of what I was doing. We caused a lot of sadness and pain. We were five friends and no one could stop us. When I was in a rehab center, one of my friends tried to rob a store and the security guard shot him. I spent almost two years in that center, and when I got out, I decided to change my life and listen to my parents.”
Cayeye also has a message for parents of difficult children. He encouraged parents not to abandon their children when they are in trouble and to help them change their behavior. He said, “I am an example of this change, thanks to the ‘A New Beginning’ program and the Salesians. I have gone back to school and am taking a technical course in mechanics, which is one of my dreams with which I hope to help my parents.”
Cayeye concluded, “The program has provided me with medical and psychological care, as well as technical and practical courses, which have contributed greatly to my recovery with the full support of my family. Thanks to the Salesians, I am now a new person, ready to help other young people.”
According to UNICEF, more than 36 percent of the population of Angola 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.
In Luanda, Salesian missionaries provide education, shelter for homeless children and at-risk girls, and support for youth through social development programs. Salesian missionaries began their work with street children in Angola during the 1990s when groups of children fleeing the war flowed into the capital.
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Salesian Missions – Angola
UNICEF – Angola