DR CONGO: Salesian Missions donor funding helps to expand classrooms and provide nutritional assistance for poor students
(MissionNewswire) Thanks to donor funding through Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, youth at three Salesian centers in the Democratic Republic of Congo benefited from improved school conditions. Students attending the Don Bosco Vocational Center in Uvira and younger children at the Primary School Saint Kiwanuka/Kingabwa have improved classrooms and materials while students at the Don Bosco Center Ngangi have better nutrition.
The Don Bosco Vocational Center needs to upgrade dated classrooms and expand programs to accommodate more students. There is a real need in the area for vocational and life skills training opportunities to empower poor young women. Many of the vocational center’s students are former child soldiers, street children, children accused of witchcraft, abused women and single mothers who have had their rights violated and have been denied a chance to gain an education. All are particularly vulnerable to violence and exploitation.
Donor funding will be used to expand existing programs and provide tuition for three years for 250 students. It will also be used to support the purchase of new equipment and books used in the classroom as well as update teacher training.
“Expansion to this vocational school is critical because most of these young people have very limited education,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “They have attended a few years of primary school and then left because their circumstances didn’t allow them to continue in school. Salesian missionaries started the educational project so youth and single mothers could learn a trade and gain employment to break the cycle of poverty and become contributing members of their community.”
At the Primary School Saint Kiwanuka/Kingabwa donor funding was used to construct four new classrooms. These new classrooms will provide many more poor children in the community an education and a chance for a better life. Children who attend school regularly are more likely to stay away from the dangers of the streets.
Donor funding also helped support better nutrition at Don Bosco Center Ngangi, located in the eastern city of Goma. The center has been providing social development, medical and educational services to poor youth and their families since 1988. Currently, there are more than 4,600 people accessing the center’s services. The center owns a large farm which is used to grow food for the community. Funding will be used to supplement the program by providing prepared meals for 300 children and supporting the farm, making the center more self-sustainable in the future.
Salesian missionaries have been working in the Democratic Republic of Congo 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 the opportunity for a stable and productive future.
The country has been plagued by intense civil war and internal conflict since the outbreak of fighting in 1998. As a result, there have been close to 5.4 million deaths, according to the International Rescue Committee. Most deaths resulted from non-violent causes such as malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition, all typically preventable under normal circumstances but often fatal in times of conflict. Close to 1.5 million people have been internally displaced or have become refugees in neighboring countries after having fled the country to escape the continued violence.
Youth make up about 19 percent of the country’s population but account for 47 percent of deaths during this conflict. Poverty is rampant, according to UNICEF, and 72 percent of rural households and 59 percent of urban households are poor. Nearly 40 percent of children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition and most of the population lives with moderate to serious food insecurity. The 2013 Human Development Index ranked the Democratic Republic of Congo 186 out of 187 countries and territories listed.
UNICEF – DR Congo
*Any goods, services, or funds provided by Salesian Missions to programs located in this country were administered in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control.