KENYA: Don Bosco Boys Town is Providing a Path Out of Poverty in Nairobi
(MissionNewswire) In Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, most of the three million residents endure lives of extreme poverty. Much of the population reside in slums that crowd the city. Here, poverty is commonplace and basic health care and education is lacking.
Compared to Kenya’s more rural areas, fewer youth residing in the slums of Nairobi attend the later stages of school. The few schools serving this disadvantaged community are beyond the financial means of most families. UNICEF noted that while Kenya has free and compulsory education, youth in poverty still cannot afford to attend school with nine out of 10 children from poor households failing to complete their basic education.
Gender inequalities remain severe, with women in poverty five times more likely to be unemployed than their male counterparts. In addition, the number of street children and those addicted to drugs is a growing challenge.
With its mandate to serve “the poorest of the poor,” Don Bosco Boys Town is bringing hope while making a real impact—transforming the lives of hundreds of destitute young people by providing a practical path out of poverty.
Established in the mid-1980s, Don Bosco Boys Town is a technical school located in Nairobi. The school provides technical and trade skills training to more than 300 students a year, and has long since opened its doors to girls as well. Its mission extends beyond job training and offers students the opportunity for a life of dignity and good citizenship.
“The school attracts youth that do not do well on national college exams and provides them an alternative opportunity to acquire marketable skills that can help them make a living,” said Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “The tuition cost is highly subsidized to make this training affordable to the low income student population in Kenya.”
While the majority of its students are boys, both boys and girls are provided access to this two-year technical training program. The program offers training in a wide variety of vocational skills, including tailoring, car engineering/mechanics, carpentry, electrical work and welding as well as secretarial and a full spectrum of computer-related job skills. As part of a well-rounded education, additional programs such as sports, music, scouting and prayer groups are also included as part of the curriculum.
After graduation more than 80 percent of the graduates are employed in their fields of study. Many students are also able to move on to establish their own businesses and become entrepreneurs in Nairobi.
One recent student, Luciane Kimasha, began attending when a friend encouraged her to fill out the school’s application. She had lost both of her parents within two years and was constantly on the move from the home of one neighbor or friend to another. Her future seemed bleak until she was accepted into Don Bosco Boys Town.
“I’m going to be a car mechanic. I was the only girl in the automotive program, but I never gave up. In the second year, another girl joined me, so now there are two of us,” Kimasha explains. “From the moment I set foot in here, I got very many advantages. First, I learned my automotive mechanics and I can handle any issue. But I also got spiritual nourishment in the Church and seminars on life choices.”
Kimasha, like many of her peers attending the program adds, “I have learned a lot.”
In closing Father Hyde added, “All youth deserve a chance at a better life. At Don Bosco Boys Town we help youth take responsibility for their own lives by providing them the skills to find and keep a job to support themselves and help their communities.”
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