FIJI: Youth engage with mentors at new center
Salesian missionaries launch new Youth and Education Center in Suva
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries have launched a new Youth and Education Center in Suva, Fiji. The center includes a multipurpose community space, open areas for learning and a community garden. The space creates a central hub where youth can meet in a safe environment to connect with their peers and engage with Salesian mentors while learning new life skills. Construction was underway in 2020 and delayed because of weather, but the facility is now completed.
Stage two of construction has been planned to clear the surrounding land to build a netball, basketball, volleyball court and a rugby field where youth can enjoy time with their friends. This is an important part of the youth and community programs to encourage holistic development.
Brother Peter Minh Duc Nguyen explained, “In general, in many places in Fiji, the young don’t have a safe place to play. Young people play rugby, volleyball and other sports on the road, and this is very dangerous. The need for a protected and healthy playground is an urgent need. The youth program fulfills that demand and helps them to develop the whole person by exploring different activities.”
The center’s community garden has played an important role during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has provided space for the local population to plant and grow food to feed their families. This has been particularly important as many families are experiencing cutbacks to their work hours or have been unemployed. Salesian missionaries have also been providing outreach into the community and helping vulnerable families.
Just more than 44 percent of the population in Fiji is under the age of 25 and there are limited opportunities for employment. The community center will serve a vital role in helping these youth find the right path for their future.
Salesian missionaries have been a part of the Fijian community since 1999, primarily facilitating education for young Salesians from the Pacific region, as well as operating a local parish. During a visit in 2015, the Rector Major Father Ángel Fernández Artime expressed a strong desire to see the Salesian community expand to include a strong youth-focused outreach, which was a motivating factor for this community center project.
Australian Salesian Missions Overseas Annual Report 2020
Photo courtesy of the Australian Salesian Mission Overseas Aid Fund