GLOBAL: Salesian Missions Highlights Humanitarian Efforts on World Humanitarian Day
(MissionNewswire) Salesian Missions joins the United Nations and other organizations around the globe in honoring World Humanitarian Day.
Celebrated each year on August 19, the day was established by the United Nations to recognize those who face danger and adversity in order to help others and was designated to coincide with the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq. The theme of World Humanitarian Day 2015 is, “Inspiring the World’s Humanity” and highlights humanitarian organizations around the world while inspiring people to become active messengers of humanity.
“On World Humanitarian Day, we honor the selfless dedication and sacrifice of workers and volunteers from around the world who devote themselves – often at great personal risk – to assisting the world’s most vulnerable people,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in a statement on World Humanitarian Day 2015. “This year, more than 100 million women, men and children need life-saving humanitarian assistance. The amount of people affected by conflict has reached levels not seen since the Second World War, while the number of those affected by natural and human-induced disasters remains profound. On this Day we also celebrate our common humanity. The families and communities struggling to survive in today’s emergencies do so with resilience and dignity. They need and deserve our renewed commitment to do all we can to provide them with the means for a better future.”
From the recent earthquakes in Nepal and flooding in Myanmar to the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Salesian missionaries are on the forefront of relief efforts and operate programs in more than 130 countries around the globe. Missionaries provide immediate assistance but also remain in countries in need to assist families, rebuild communities and restore livelihoods long after other organizations have left.
“Because Salesian missionaries live within the communities they serve, they are perfectly positioned to respond in times of crisis,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Our programs help to provide food, clothing and shelter to those in need and our missionaries remain through the long recovery process after a humanitarian crisis to help families rebuild their homes and salvage their livelihoods.”
In honor and celebration of World Humanitarian Day 2015, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight its humanitarian efforts that have benefited more than 450,000 people since the start of 2015.
Salesian missionaries have been providing emergency relief and helping flood victims displaced by the heavy monsoon rain and flooding that has affected Myanmar this summer. Nearly 1 million people have now been affected by the widespread flooding across the country since June. Myanmar government officials have reported that close to 100 people have died and 1.2 million acres of rice fields have been destroyed. Heavy rains in early August caused by Cyclone Komen worsened the already precarious situation and led to intensified flooding across much of the country. Salesian missionaries living and working in the region are responding to the situation with aid for the flood victims, many who have lost everything. The regions most affected include Chin, Rakáin, Magwe and Sagaing which the Burmese government declared a state of natural disaster. The Salesian house of Kalay, a boarding school in the region of Chin, is located at the center of one of the most flood-stricken areas but did not suffer any damage. The Salesian community in the region is already actively engaged in emergency relief work and also planning long-term rebuilding and education and social development initiatives to help flood victims.
Salesian missionaries immediately responded with food, medicine and temporary shelter after a devastating 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal on April 25 and a second earthquake struck on May 12. More than 8,000 died and close to 20,000 were injured as a result of the earthquakes and their aftermath. Forty of Nepal’s 75 districts were affected, 16 of them severely, with homes, schools, buildings, cattle, fields ready for harvest and other property destroyed. More than 500,000 people were displaced and remain in need of shelter and other assistance.
Salesian missionaries are building temporary schools and addressing long-term training needs as part of their reconstruction and relief efforts. To date, more than 21 temporary learning centers have been completed. In a recent evaluation meeting with Nepalese government officers and other non-government organizations, it was acknowledged that the temporary learning centers built by the Salesian missionaries and students from the Salesian-operated technical school, Don Bosco Thecho in Kathmandu, Nepal, were of such high quality they could possibly serve as permanent school buildings.
SYRIAN CONFLICT REFUGEES IN TURKEY
Sharing a 500-mile-long border with Syria, Southeastern Turkey has more than 1.6 million Syrian refugees, as reported by the United Nations. Salesian missionaries are providing services at three sites within Syria while also providing for Syrian refugees in Turkey. While many Syrian refugees stay in towns on the Turkey-Syrian border, many find their way to big cities like Istanbul where Salesian missionaries operate a program that currently serves close to 400 Syrian refugees.
At the Don Bosco Center in Istanbul, Salesian Father Andres Calleja Ruiz leads special programs for refugee children and youth from Syria as well as for a growing number of families fleeing ISIS persecution in Iraq. Because most refugees do not speak the local language it is difficult for children to attend school and adults to find work. At the Center, Salesian missionaries provide a school for more than 350 refugee children where they learn the English language and traditional school subjects such as mathematics, geography and music. Students have access to sports and dance programs intended to help them connect with their peers and find enjoyment and comfort in their new surroundings. In addition, the program provides counseling both for youth and their families to help them overcome the challenges and traumas they have faced.
Technical skills training is a critical component of Salesian work in Istanbul. Many refugees leave the country’s border towns and refugee camps and make their way to Istanbul hoping to find employment and a more stable life. If they fail to find work, refugees are often left in dire circumstances. The Don Bosco Center’s technical skills training program is a critical safety net for those in need.
WEST AFRICA EBOLA OUTBREAK
The recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the most deadly on record, has infected close to 21,200 and killed more than 8,400 across Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Salesian missionaries in both Sierra Leone and Liberia immediately responded with health prevention education and humanitarian assistance in the form of food aid and medical supplies as well as soap and other cleaning and disinfecting products to help slow and eventually stop the spread of Ebola. The Salesian-run Mother Patern College of Health Sciences, one of five colleges that make up the Stella Maris Polytechnic University in Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia, was on the front lines of the Ebola crisis with all 63 of its staff reassigned to address the Ebola outbreak. Education was an important step in stopping the spread of the disease and Salesian missionaries in Liberia and Sierra Leone went door to door providing education on Ebola and passing out prevention materials. Salesian missionaries also continue to provide ongoing support, shelter and education to Ebola orphans, those children who have lost parents, and for some, their entire families, as a result of the deadly disease.