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ETHIOPIA: Salesian Programs Help Break Cycle of Poverty and Give Youth Hope for the Future

(MissionNewswireEthiopia 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.

Through various programs, Salesians in Ethiopia are meeting the most basic needs of poor youth while providing educational opportunities to enable them to break the cycle of poverty and find hope for the future.

One such Salesian program, the CARING Orphans and Vulnerable Children project is funded by USAID to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS in the country. It provides holistic care, community reintegration and support for 60,000 orphans and street youth who are living at-risk due to HIV/AIDS. A shelter where youth are able to access medical care, clothing and food is available as well as formal and non-formal education opportunities. As a result of the program, more than a quarter of the youth have been reintegrated back home with their extended families.

“Salesians in Ethiopia are helping the most poor and vulnerable children in the country,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “As a result of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, children have been left alone to fend for themselves. Salesians are working hard to make sure that these children have a chance at a brighter future.”

In Ethiopia, the Salesians’ primary focus is on the education of poor youth. They accomplish this through the operation of six primary schools, three secondary schools and six vocational training centers for older youth. At all these Salesian-run educational facilities, youth are able to gain an education while having access to support services, including family sponsorship and school feeding programs, that provide care for them and their families all with the goal of keeping youth in school as long as possible.

In Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa, a Salesian Center provides a variety of programs designed to instill confidence and self-respect to 750 at-risk youth. The Center features dormitories, classrooms, a recreation hall and cafeteria and serves hundreds of poor youth by providing for their most basic needs of food and shelter. While educational programming is offered at the Center, the Salesians there believe in meeting the basic needs of youth first, so they are better able to focus on their studies.

“Education is always our primary focus,” adds Fr. Hyde. “But we know youth in Ethiopia are dealing with much more than just having access to education. Salesian programs are tailored to meet the needs of the youth in the communities they serve. Homeless and malnourished youth are simply not able to focus effectively on their studies while they struggle to meet their basic needs. Our services provide food and shelter so youth are able to focus on the education provided.”



Feed the Future – Ethiopia

UNICEF – Ethiopia

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