CAMBODIA: Salesian High School Student Pays it Forward Sending 39 Bicycles to Students Supported by Don Bosco Children Fund
(MissionNewswire) Joseph Sinnott, a Salesian High School student and Eagle Scout, completed a project to collect and repair bicycles for Salesian students in Cambodia. At the end of 2015, 39 bicycles were distributed to students supported by the Don Bosco Children Fund, a Salesian-run organization that assists poor youth between the ages of six and 15 who are either unable to go to school or have had to drop out due to poverty.
Students from four Salesian schools in the Cambodian provinces of Kep, Kampot and Takeo were selected to receive the bicycles after Salesian volunteers had visited the schools to determine which children were most in need of transportation. Many children live in remote areas of the country and must travel great distances to gain an education. The donated bicycles will provide the transportation necessary to help students reach their schools faster and more efficiently.
“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,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “This donation is a great example of a Salesian student from the United States who has benefitted from an education, paying it forward by helping students on the other side of the world access education.”
The donation also included spare bicycle parts and tire pumps as well as eight bags of gently used blankets for the students. Through the Don Bosco Children Fund’s programs, 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.
“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,” adds Fr. Hyde. “Youth need the extra support to stay in school and get an education. Salesian missionaries 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, healthcare 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, Salesian missionaries in the country operate 45 schools in poor, rural villages through a partnership between Salesian Missions and the Ministry of Education. Salesian missionaries also operate seven vocational training centers that impart much needed job skills.
World Bank – Cambodia