BENIN: New Awareness Programs Launch to Better Understand Plight of Homeless and At-Risk Youth
(MissionNewswire) In June, Don Bosco Solidarity, together with the Brotherhood of Mary Help of Christians of La Palma del Condado, launched the exhibition “Improving the care of children and street children in Cotonou (Benin).” The exhibition consisted of 11 panels that presented the work of welcoming, accompaniment, support, and social and family reintegration carried out by nongovernmental agencies including Salesian missionaries.
Don Bosco Solidarity educates young children and older youth to change the way they see life under the motto “The secret of a better world.” The educational initiative aims to create opportunities to learn more about the plight of street children and ways in which Salesian missionaries are helping youth across the country. It both raises awareness of the issue of homeless and at-risk youth and aims to provide educational opportunities to help.
In Cadiz, instead of the traditional popular festival held in the area, Salesian missionaries launched a fundraiser for projects aimed at helping at-risk youth in Benin and Burkina Faso. While this was happening, Salesian missionaries used the end of the school term to launch the “The secret of a better world” educational campaign. Both students and primary school teachers sought to expand their own personal vision of what’s happening in communities.
Through drawings, storytelling, analysis of advertising and numerous other methods, children reflected on how to put an end to poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change. They were able to take a global view of their day-to-day existence.
“Innovative and creative projects help youth better express themselves and take a world view of problems affecting their communities and those around the globe. These projects also challenge youth to help contribute solutions to global issues,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco.
Salesian missionaries across Benin are focused on helping to provide education and social development programs for poor and at-risk youth. For example, Don Bosco Foyer in Porto-Novo, the capital city of Benin, serves boys and girls in very complex situations, including youth who have been abandoned by their families, victims of abuse and those who are victims of forced marriages. The program is a residential home for children coming directly from the street. Children’s most basic needs are met, including shelter, proper nutrition, clothing and access to adults who help them feel safe and protected from the exploitation and violence many faced while living on the streets.
Children in Benin face significant challenges gaining an education within the country’s poor educational system. According to UNICEF, Benin remains one of the poorest countries in the world with close to 70 percent of its population living in poverty. About half of all children between the ages of 5 and 13 are engaged in some kind of forced labor in the country and almost 20 percent are chronically undernourished. Youth in Benin also face overwhelming challenges in combating poverty, one of the root causes of child trafficking.
UNICEF – Poverty in Benin