CAMBODIA: Donor funding helps launch new Don Bosco Hatrans Kindergarten
(MissionNewswire) Thanks to donor funding, through the Don Bosco Children’s Fund office in Kep, Salesian missionaries officially opened the Don Bosco Hatrans Kindergarten on Oct. 28. Donor funding was used to secure the location and for construction of the new building. Currently, 40 children are attending the kindergarten, which means so much to local parents who are now able to have their children in school. The new kindergarten is part of the broader educational facilities and programs offered by Don Bosco Kep.
Don Bosco Kep provides basic, secondary and technical education to poor youth living in the Cambodian provinces of Kep, Kampot, Takeo, Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri. The organization’s educational and social development programs give special attention to children and young people from ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, orphans and at-risk youth in danger of becoming victims of human trafficking, labor exploitation or other abuses. Programs aim to help students break the cycle of poverty and become contributing members of their communities.
A branch of the Don Bosco Children Fund is operated out of Don Bosco Kep and assists poor youth between the ages of 6 and 15 who are either unable to go to school or have had to drop out due to poverty. Through the Don Bosco Children Fund, youth not only receive support to continue their education, they also receive a monthly assistance package consisting of goods and cash. Social workers ensure that youth make progress and remain in school, and those with special aptitude are further supported and encouraged to pursue college coursework.
In a country where less than half of children finish primary school, more than 50,000 children have received the encouragement and support needed to complete an elementary education through the Don Bosco Children Fund since its inception in 1992.
“Many parents in Cambodia did not have the same opportunities for education as their children do today so they do not see staying in school as a priority, particularly when many children have been forced to work to bring in extra money for the family,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Youth need the extra support to stay in school and get an education. Salesian missionaries at Don Bosco Kep provide that much needed support and stability to help youth achieve.”
Cambodia has a long history of violence that has resulted in a quarter of Cambodians living in poverty and surviving on less than $1 per day, according to the World Bank. About 80 percent of the country’s population resides in rural areas and has limited access to education, health care and other public services.
Today, close to a quarter of Cambodians over the age of 15 are illiterate. With very little access to education, poor youth find it especially challenging to break the cycle of poverty. To provide youth with greater opportunity, Salesians in the country operate 45 schools in poor, rural villages through a partnership between Salesian Missions and the Ministry of Education. In addition, Salesians operate seven vocational training centers that impart much needed job skills.
UNICEF – Cambodia