DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Salesian Youth Animators Formation Program trains 153 new youth leaders
(MissionNewswire) In May, the Salesian Family in the Dominican Republic introduced 153 new youth leaders to Dominican society. The youth were trained through the Salesian Youth Animators Formation Program (Programa de Formación de Animadores Juveniles, PROFAJ). It was the program’s 33rd course and had the most participants since the program’s launch in 1986.
Including seven stages developed over the course of two years, the PROFAJ program trains youth and helps them develop leadership skills so they are able to work and collaborate with other youth. The training and course stages are focused on life, faith and action and enable participants to engage in the various processes of faith education.
The program is aimed at youth engaged in programs at Don Bosco and Daughters of Mary Help of Christian centers and those attending Catholic parishes in the various dioceses within the country. Over the past 10 years, PROFAJ has trained more than 1,000 youth, helping them to discover, promote and enhance their leadership skills.
“Many of these young people are now playing an important role in social life and have gained experience with youth animation. The PROFAJ program has undoubtedly helped them to acquire a series of experiences and skills that have been very important for their professional development too. These skills have been used to enhance their strengths and abilities by integrating them with proactive leadership,” explained Father Enrique Castillo, delegate for Youth Ministry in the Province of the Antilles.
Nearly half of youth under the age of 18 live in poverty in the Dominican Republic, according to UNICEF. Although the country’s economy has been steadily improving since 1996, the country’s poor still struggle to get enough food to eat and to access safe drinking water and adequate housing. Only 30 percent of youth finish primary school and only 18 percent finish secondary school on time. Schools are in poor shape with nearly half having no access to safe drinking water and more than 60 percent lacking adequate bathroom facilities.
“The work of Salesian missionaries in the Dominican Republic and in programs around the globe goes beyond traditional education,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “We aim to serve the whole person by making sure basic needs are met and youth have an opportunity to learn skills that enhance their life, bring them joy and encourage their passion for learning.”
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UNICEF – Dominican Republic