CHAD: Salesian Programs Help Combat Food Insecurity, Address Educational Needs in One of the Poorest Countries in the World
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries have been living and working with poor youth in the Republic of Chad in Central Africa since 1995. They established their first programs in Sarh, the third largest city in the country, which has more than 120,000 residents. Three years later, missionaries began other programs in the capital of N’Djamena, and in 2013 in the city of Doba.
In Sarh, Salesian missionaries operate a kindergarten, a school for older youth, a youth center and church parish. The missionaries work goes far beyond the inside of classrooms and the parish though. Their work takes them into more than 116 villages in the surrounding areas. The goal is to provide the people their most basic needs including food, clothing, and medical assistance while encouraging youth to attend the local Salesian school.
Education has proven to be an effective means of breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty while giving the most vulnerable youth a sense of personal dignity and self-worth. There are 3,200 Salesian schools around the globe providing education to young students to prepare them for advanced technical and vocation studies.
In addition, more than 850 Salesian vocational, technical, professional and agricultural schools give practical skills to youth to create productive and contributing adults in their communities—rebuilding communities and ending the cycle of poverty. These specialized programs help students become contributing adults in their communities. These schools go above and beyond educating. They also assist youth in making connections within industries while preparing them for the process of searching, finding and retaining employment.
“Education is always our primary focus,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “But we know youth in Chad are dealing with much more than just having access to education. Salesian programs are tailored to meet the needs of the youth in the communities they serve. Homeless and malnourished youth are simply not able to focus effectively on their studies while they struggle to meet their basic needs. Our services provide food and shelter so youth are able to focus on the education provided.”
Chad is one of the poorest countries in the world. According to the World Food Program, 87 percent of Chad’s rural population lives below the poverty line. Chad ranks 73rd out of 78 countries on the Global Hunger Index and 185 out of 188 countries on the 2015 UNDP Human Development Index. Most of the Chad is covered by desert and this presents a significant challenge for a developing country that depends largely on subsistence farming. The most successful practice is migratory farming, where herds can move and adapt to changing climate conditions, but even this practice is severely limited by resources.
Frequent droughts have also aggravated already challenging conditions. Recent climate changes have decreased rainfalls and consistent overuse has led to soil erosion and land degradation. As a result, farmers lack infrastructure, support and resources needed to grow sufficient food to feed the country properly. In 2015, more than 2.4 million rural Chadians became food insecure, of which 428,000 people are classified as severely food insecure, according to the World Food Programme.
Women in Chad also face significant gender discrimination. They often must work outside the home as well raise a family, tend the farms, gather water, and raise children and cooking. Yet they are culturally limited from access to education or training, and marginalized by society. These women are especially vulnerable to the psychological as well as physical effects of poverty.
World Food Program – Chad