BURUNDI: Salesian Parish in Rukago rolls out new vocational training and activities for people with disabilities
(MissionNewswire) The Salesian Parish in Rukago, Burundi, has started working directly with people with disabilities. This past summer, an initial meeting was held at the local Salesian Center to discuss ways in which the community could support those with disabilities, including by offering vocational training so that people could live a more independent life.
Salesian Father Benjamin Gahungu, the parish priest, said, “Diversity in society is a wealth that must not be hidden by fear. The parish is organizing to offer vocational training to promote autonomy. People with disabilities have many skills and talents that we will help them discover and develop to fight poverty. Our duty is to encourage and accompany.”
At the initial meeting, there was a presentation and a question and answer session. Following this, Fr. Gahungu met with people and listened to the ways in which they needed support and the injustices they have suffered, including the isolation and judgment they encountered from other people, sometimes even their own families. Fr. Gahungu took the time to console and encourage them.
People with disabilities made many recommendations about how the Salesian community could support them, and Fr. Gahungu is now in the process of slowly implementing many new activities. Father Raphaël Katanga, the Salesian community economer, and Sister Claudette Habarugira, head of the parish Caritas, are in ongoing contact with those who attended the meeting to keep supporting and listening to their needs.
As Salesians work to roll out new vocational training, they have begun a search for funding for the purchase of sewing machines and other equipment to be used in the training. The course offered will provide a certificate of professional qualification upon completion.
Since the primary objective of this new initiative is the social integration of people with disabilities, the Salesian community is also providing recreational, sporting and cultural activities that help people with disabilities to develop self-esteem, build identity, and maintain physical and mental health.
Burundi, located in the heart of the African Great Lakes region, has seen more than a decade of violence and conflict which has contributed to widespread poverty, according to UNICEF. Burundi ranks 185 out of 189 countries on the 2019 UN Human Development Index and close to 70 percent of its residents live below the poverty line.
Children are some of the most severely affected by the country’s rampant poverty. Fifty-three percent of children under the age of 5 suffer from growth stunting caused by inadequate food, low-quality diet, poor infant feeding practices, poor household management of childhood diseases and the general decline of the country’s health system.
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Salesian Missions – Burundi
UNICEF – Burundi