EL SALVADOR: Salesian vocational graduates receive tool kits to help them prepare for the workforce
(MissionNewswire) Since 1991, Salesian missionaries at Ciudadela Don Bosco (Don Bosco Citadel) in San Salvador, El Salvador have been providing at-risk youth the educational foundation, technical training and life-skills development to help them find and excel in long-term jobs. At Don Bosco Citadel’s Vocational Training Center, close to 1,700 students between the ages of 18 and 25 participate in rigorous, two-year training courses in electrician skills, auto mechanics, machinery maintenance and more. Most of these students would otherwise be unable to afford this level of education, which Salesian missionaries provide for free as an investment in El Salvador’s future.
Growing up in the suburbs of San Salvador, most youth face a grim future. The country is one of the most violent in Central America with nearly 60,000 young people involved in gang-related and other criminal activity. Young people who manage to resist this trap of misfortune too often lack the educational and employment opportunities they need to escape the conditions of poverty. Today, more than 50 percent of youth between the ages of 15 and 24 are unemployed or underemployed.
Carlos, 19, is one such student. He couldn’t envision what his future might hold, but he is now studying to become an electrician, an opportunity enhanced by a partnership between Salesian Missions and ASAP (A Self-Help Assistance Program). The program provides toolkits to vocational graduates of Salesian schools while fostering cross-cultural understanding through entrepreneurship and educational projects.
Headquartered in Atlanta, ASAP accepts donated tools that its volunteers then refurbish, bundle and send to vocational training programs where needed. Each year since 2015, ASAP has provided Salesian-run programs with life-changing tool-kits in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and now, El Salvador.
“This partnership has truly made a measurable impact on the lives of our students,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “In many cases, the tools ASAP donates would be difficult for Salesian educational centers to afford or procure, which can impact hands-on learning experiences. Now, students at Don Bosco Citadel have access to, and can learn how to use cutting-edge tools that will fully prepare them for future work, which empowers them to break the cycle of poverty for themselves and their families.”
Carlos agrees. “These tools, and electrical training, are helping me to move forward in life. When I become a certified electrician, I will be able to find a job and help my two younger sisters go to school—so they can build a better life, too.”
In El Salvador close to 35 percent of the population lives in poverty, according to the World Bank. Youth in El Salvador are confronted not only with poverty, but with instability, high levels of violence and inadequate access to educational opportunities. Despite ranking high for economic indicators, the need for practical education in the country is more important than ever with 12 percent of youth ages 15 to 24 unemployed and 41 percent underemployed.
Salesian Missions – Providing Tools for Success
World Bank – El Salvador