ANGOLA: Youth in legal trouble gain support
Program actively involves parents for healthy family environment
(MissionNewswire) Salesians in Angola facilitate a program for youth in conflict with the law known as “A new beginning.” The program offers education courses, including professional skills training and psychological counseling, for the reintegration into a healthy family environment. Last year, 209 youth (186 boys and 23 girls) benefited from the project with support from the European Union, the Angolan government and UNICEF.
Angola has no facilities for youth who have broken the law. Some youth are sent to detoxification centers, and others are supported by social services. Many return to the streets, and after a short time they make the same mistakes. The Salesian program actively involves families, offering parents psychological support and the possibility of attending professional skill-building courses.
Francisco, age 16, is part of the program. He was involved in a brawl with a group of teens and stabbed another young man, who was injured and nearly died. The judge granted Francisco six months of probation and he served the sentence in the Salesian center.
Francisco explained, “When I came to the Salesians, I immediately liked the educators and the conversation they had with me about my friends, about quitting smoking and drinking, so much so that I even brought a friend with me to follow the course.” Francisco participated in the painting and drawing workshop.
The aim of all the courses is to strengthen self-esteem and social responsibility. Courses also contribute significantly to the construction and strengthening of the participants’ identity.
Program managers assist families and help guide the processes of behavioral change. In addition, they provide health support, education and opportunities for youth development, including access to cultural activities, sports and leisure time. All of these activities help youth reintegrate into society and live with a sense of fulfillment.
“My family was very happy to see me take these courses and participate in these activities. With the help of the project educators and my family, who supported me from the beginning, I really decided to start my life anew,” said Francisco.
Marquinha Pires is the mother of one of the beneficiaries. She said, “My son has been here for nine months. He is a new person and he behaves well. I thank the Salesians for the work they have done with us and with our children who have ended up before the juvenile judge. The program has helped us a lot in the re-education process.”
Pires attended one of the parenting courses offered. She said it has been useful for families with children who have broken the law because it helps parents to re-educate their children through various topics, such as assertive and positive communication, recovery and reintegration into society, and psychological and medical assistance.
She added, “The impossible became possible because we thought that the COVID-19 pandemic would stop the vocational courses provided by the program. But to our great joy this did not happen.”
Salesian missionaries in Angola also continue to rebuild infrastructure that was damaged during the civil war 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.
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Salesian Missions – Angola
UNICEF – Angola