DR CONGO: Salesian missionaries launch initiative to secure mattresses, mosquito nets and sheets for children seeking shelter at Maison Papy
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries have launched a new initiative to secure mattresses, mosquito nets and sheets for children who seek shelter at the Salesian Maison Papy reception center, part of the La Cité des Jeunes Don Bosco Lukunga Center. In the outskirts of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the large Salesian center was launched in 1989 and aims to help the most vulnerable children.
Don Bosco Lukunga is located in a very poor area where electricity runs in fits and starts and water is scarce. The Salesian Maison Papy reception center was named after a young boy who sought shelter at Don Bosco Lukunga, but was so gravely ill, he died shortly after in the hospital.
Youth who seek shelter at Maison Papy are the most disadvantaged in the region. Many have been accused unjustly of being sorcerers. It is estimated that over 13,000 in Kinshasa are considered sorcerers or ndoki. The children are really orphans living on the streets, minor workers and often drug-addicted.
More than 40 children, between the ages of 5 to 17 years, can stay at Maison Papy at any one time. Salesian missionaries offer them a home and education, health care and food. For many this is the first attention and affection they have received from adults. Many have never known what it’s like to be cared for and have a safe place to sleep.
“Maison Papy is a safe haven for children and older youth who have nowhere else to go and no one to take care of them,” says Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “The new initiative of having mattresses, sheets and mosquito netting is important for these children. Having a bed to sleep in is important. Youth are able to get a good night’s rest so they can be alert and ready to take part in their studies. It also provides youth, who come from impoverished backgrounds, a sense of dignity.”
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