BENIN: Salesian missionaries complete Benin project aimed at raising awareness of issues facing homeless and at-risk youth
(MissionNewswire) On Aug. 30, the “Improving the care of children and street children in Cotonou (Benin)” exhibition came to a close. The exhibition, facilitated by Don Bosco Solidarity and the Brotherhood of Mary Help of Christians of La Palma del Condado, 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. Organizers of the exhibition thanked Salesian missionaries and expressed their desire to continue work with the Salesian institutions on addressing the needs of at-risk youth in Cotonou.
Through the exhibition, Don Bosco Solidarity educated young children and older youth to change the way they see life under the motto “The secret of a better world.” The educational initiative aimed 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 raised awareness of the issue of homeless and at-risk youth and aimed to provide educational opportunities to help.
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. The Salesian-run Mamá Margarita House, which took part in the project, continues to provide services to homeless and at-risk youth. At Mamá Margarita house, children access safe shelter and education that allows them to improve their chances in life. Workshops in dressmaking and motorcycle repairs have been provided so youth have an opportunity to gain the skills needed for long-term employment to improve their living conditions.
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