COLOMBIA: Life Outlook program at Don Bosco City offers youth formal education, skills training and internships to prepare them for the workforce
(MissionNewswire) The Life Outlook protection program works with youth who are between 15 and 17 years of age who are involved in an internship through Don Bosco City in Medellin, where violent drug wars routinely tear families apart. The program provides youth with adult support and access to formal and technical education so that youth will have the skills needed to enter the workforce successfully.
The formal education offered through the program is a fundamental aspect of the process of helping youth to reconnect back into school and life with their peers. Salesian missionaries offer grade school and high school level educational services. In addition, once youth are ready, they can advance to more technical skills training. The technical training is also offered with an internship where youth can work to put their classroom skills into practice.
Youth are paired up with jobs in the auto mechanics, woodworking and furniture making, and clothing employment sectors. They are also offered space for rest and lodging, where they are able to take advantage of their free time. It’s also a safe space where they can study, connect with peers and relax.
The Life Outlook program also offers youth the opportunity to belong to youth clubs that foster cultural, environmental, artistic and other aspects within youth. There are currently seven youth clubs. In the ecological youth club, members engage in a walk that allows them to check out the land’s natural riches in terms of fauna, flora and water reservoirs. This teaches youth about the importance of the environment and gives them time to connect with peers with common interests.
Many of the students in this program were once living on the streets or living at risk of violence, drugs and exploitation. Salesian missionaries and lay volunteers have a presence on the streets to reach at-risk youth and encourage them to visit Don Bosco City. Once youth visit the program, the rehabilitation process begins by meeting the young person’s most immediate needs such as food, clothing and shelter.
If youth wish to stay at Don Bosco City instead of returning to the streets, they are provided with housing and a remedial education in addition to being taught life skills and how to live with others. After youth are acclimated into the program and have caught up academically, they can access the formal education, job skills training and the internship program.
“We know that access to education for both boys and girls lays the foundation for a better future for homeless, abandoned and at-risk youth,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “In Colombia especially, where almost 20 percent of school-age children do not attend school, it is crucial that we offer this opportunity to as many youth as we can.”
Close to 33 percent of Colombians live in poverty, according to the World Bank. One in five children in the country has no access to education and 800,000 children reside in refugee camps. The crisis of street children is at epidemic proportions and thousands of at-risk youth have been recruited as child soldiers.
World Bank – Colombia