DR CONGO: Don Bosco Center graduates 69 students who successfully completed 14-month course
(MissionNewswire) The Don Bosco Center, located in the city of Bukavu in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), has issued graduation certificates to 69 students. These graduates started coursework 14 months ago with two months of literacy training, followed by nine months of vocational training and a three-month internship. Upon graduating, the Don Bosco Center gave each graduate a tool kit to help them prepare for their employment search.
Father Piero Gavioli, director of the Don Bosco Center, said, “It is the culmination of a long road starting 14 months ago. Then these boys and girls were in the streets and on the margins of social life. Don Bosco welcomed them, gave them a trade and offered them an opportunity for a stable future. Now that they have graduated, the employment office of our school will help them in the search for a job.”
Operated by two Salesian priests and one Salesian brother, the Don Bosco Center is located near the main town square and a prison. It is an ideal location for missionaries to meet the many street children who spend time in the square washing cars, carrying luggage and parcels, stealing, and begging. Shortly after the inception of the Don Bosco Center, a Salesian school was opened on the premises which serves the local population.
“The Don Bosco Center was launched in 2014 and since that time we have chosen to offer a broad and unconditional welcome. During the day, the door of the Don Bosco Center is always open. We try to listen to those who come from outside with their problems,” added Fr. Gavioli.
He noted that people come with problems such as landlords kicking people out because they have not been able to pay rent. Others have had small businesses that have closed and lost capital because they got sick. There are families who need shelter and babies who need proper nutrition.
“Our mission here is to welcome the children in the streets and offer them free vocational training. Moreover, with our resources, we help families to pay the school fees of at least one of their children,” said Fr. Gavioli.
Salesian missionaries at the Don Bosco Center also lend support to families who cannot pay their children’s public school fees. Depending on the degree of vulnerability, the center has intervened to pay half or all the school fees for about 150 primary and secondary school children. The center also has a courtyard that allows children from the local community to come together and play year-round.
Despite its vast material wealth, the DRC has long been a very poor nation. Half of the country’s population lives below the poverty line on less than $1 a day, especially those in rural communities. Because of ongoing strife and violence within the country, more than 8.5 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, a figure that’s expected to increase. More than 4.1 million Congolese are now displaced with 620,000 seeking refuge in neighboring countries. More than 7.5 million people do not have enough food to eat.
Salesian missionaries have been working in the DRC for more than 100 years ensuring that the most vulnerable children are not forgotten. Salesian primary and secondary schools and programs lay the foundation for early learning while Salesian trade, vocational and agricultural programs offer many youth the opportunity for a stable and productive future.
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Salesian Missions – Democratic Republic of the Congo
UNICEF – DR Congo