ETHIOPIA: Salesian missionaries offer shelter and education for homeless and at-risk youth at Bosco Children Project
(MissionNewswire) The Bosco Children Project, located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, provides support and educational services in addition to an outreach orientation center and a hostel for youth, mostly boys, who are orphaned or live on the street. At the hostel, youth receive shelter, meals, warm clothing, psychosocial counseling and access to basic education and literacy classes. Once ready, they participate in a skills training orientation where they experience a variety of vocational courses including automotive, carpentry and culinary arts.
Father Angelo Regazzo, a Salesian missionary with the Bosco Children Project, gets up every morning at 4:00 am and has breakfast in the Bosco Children Project cafeteria where missionaries, together with lay volunteers, welcome more than 400 children for the morning meal. After breakfast, Fr. Regazzo drives a bus, which can accommodate up to 30 children, around the city to gather youth who are living on the streets.
“Unfortunately, from all this we manage to take away mainly the males. The girls rarely let themselves get involved in the program we called ‘Come and See’ because once they reach 11-12 years old, they are often caught up in child prostitution,” explains Fr. Regazzo.
Supporting the work of the Bosco Children Project are volunteers with the Salesian International Voluntary Service for Development (VIS). VIS has been working in Ethiopia since 1998 on projects related to education, vocational training and job placement. Educational programs offered by VIS include tailoring, catering preparation, woodworking, mechanics, leather goods and construction.
In 2014, through a collaboration between Salesian missionaries, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Italian Episcopal Conference and the Ministry of Education of Ethiopia, VIS launched a “Print Your Future” program which is currently offering education in graphic arts and typography to more than 1,000 boys. A new laboratory was opened in 2015 for students to practice their hands-on skills in graphic and typographic arts. In 2017, Don Bosco Mekanissa celebrated the inauguration of a new, dedicated building for printing and graphics courses.
The “Print Your Future” program offers night classes for students, alternating between theory and practical sessions. These sessions are targeted towards those employed in the printing industry in order to help them upgrade their skills, increase their skill level in a current job or improve their chances of finding better employment. The courses in graphic and typographic arts are typically led by local experts but there are also special lectures by experts from the renowned Italian technical schools of San Zeno in Verona and San Marco in Mestre, both in the Salesian Province of North-East Italy (INE).
Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world with more than 38 percent of its population living in poverty, according to Feed the Future. Close to 85 percent of the country’s workforce is employed in agriculture but frequent droughts severely affect the agricultural economy leaving more than 12 million people chronically, or at least periodically, food insecure. In addition, more than two-thirds of the population is illiterate.
The country has 4 million orphans which account for nearly 12 percent of all children and according to UNICEF, more than half a million of these were orphaned as a result of the HIV/AIDS crisis that has affected the country. Thousands more children run away each year seeking a better life on the streets.
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UNICEF – Ethiopia