CAMBODIA: Salesian Missionaries Hold Official Opening Program at Don Bosco Kep to Highlight School Improvements Funded by USAID
(MissionNewswire) On Jan. 31, 2017, Salesian missionaries held an opening program to officially launch new structural improvements which increase the accessibility for students with physical disabilities attending Don Bosco Technical School Kep (Don Bosco Kep) in Kep City, Cambodia. The improvements to the school were made possible by a January 2015 grant from the Office of American Schools and Hospitals Abroad at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to help facilitate this work.
The opening program, held at the Themy Village, Prey Thom Commune in Kep, opened with a Catholic mass followed by other activities including speeches, a ribbon cutting, testimonials and lunch. The event concluded with guided tours of the Don Bosco Kep campus.
Speakers at the program included: Sean Callahan, Deputy Mission Director, USAID Cambodia; Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco; Father Roel Soto, Salesian priest with the Salesians of Cambodia; and H.E. Khem Satha, a local government representative. Father Albeiro Rodas, rector of the Salesian Foundation in Cambodia, moderated the opening program and provided the guided tours of the school.
Don Bosco Kep began welcoming students with disabilities in 2013, but school administrators knew that the campus was not as accessible as it could be for the new students to access all of their classes. Often students would have to rely on their friends for assistance getting to classrooms on higher floors and into dormitory living, making them feel like a burden. With the 2015 USAID funding, Don Bosco Kep made modifications to the school, including the installation of elevators in the main buildings, the construction of ramps to access areas for community gatherings and the creation of a student and teacher residence with all of the modifications that will allow those with physical disabilities to live and attend school independently. The funding also supported creating accessible bathrooms and the purchase of equipment to aid the learning environment for youth with disabilities.
“Children living in poverty with a disability are even less likely to attend school when compared to their peers,” says Fr. Hyde. “Youth with disabilities have the same ability to achieve as their peers, if given the opportunity. Don Bosco Kep has made the improvements necessary to make sure that all students have access to the opportunity to lead fulfilling lives and contribute to the social, cultural and economic vitality of their communities. We extend our gratitude to USAID for the funding that has allowed this to be possible.”
Don Bosco Kep provides basic, secondary and technical education to poor youth living in the Cambodian provinces of Kep, Kampot, Takeo, Ratanakiri and Mondolkiri. The school’s educational and social development programs help students break the cycle of poverty and become contributing members of their communities. Don Bosco Kep provides 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.
UNICEF – Cambodia