INTERNATIONAL YOUTH DAY: Highlights Programs Providing Child Rights Training, Education and Workforce Development Opportunities
(MissionNewswire) Salesian Missions joins the United Nations and other organizations around the globe in recognizing International Youth Day.
Celebrated each year on August 12, the day was established by the United Nations to raise awareness of issues affecting young people around the world. The theme of International Youth Day 2015, is “Youth Civic Engagement” and focuses on the engagement and participation of youth for the achievement of sustainable human development. The UN notes that while opportunities for youth to engage politically, economically and socially are low or non-existent, developing the foundation for youth engagement improves their lives and the communities in which they live.
“As the world changes with unprecedented speed, young people are proving to be invaluable partners who can advance meaningful solutions,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in a statement on International Youth Day 2015. “Youth movements and student groups are challenging traditional power structures and advocating a new social contract between States and societies. Young leaders have contributed fresh ideas, taken proactive measures and mobilized through social media as never before. I applaud the millions of young people who are protesting for rights and participation, addressing staggering levels of youth unemployment, raising their voices against injustice and advocating global action for people and the planet.”
Working in more than 130 countries around the globe, Salesian missionaries focus on education, workforce development programs, social development services and human rights education to provide young people with the knowledge and skills needed to lead productive lives and become contributing members of their communities.
“For youth to be actively engaged in their communities they must have access to education and other basic human services that allow them to feel valued and that their voices will be heard,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Salesian missionaries meet the basic needs of disadvantaged youth who often have nowhere else to turn. They also provide education and social and workforce development services to ensure a positive transition into adulthood.”
In honor and celebration of International Youth Day 2015, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight Salesian programs that empower youth.
In a country where less than half of children finish primary school, more than 50,000 children have received the encouragement and support needed to complete an elementary education through the Don Bosco Children Fund since its inception in 1992. The Don Bosco Children Fund assists poor youth between the ages of 6 and 15 who are either unable to go to school or have had to drop out due to poverty. Through the fund’s program, youth not only receive support to continue their education, they also receive a monthly assistance package consisting of goods and cash. Social workers ensure that participants make progress and remain in school and those with special aptitude are further supported and encouraged to pursue college coursework. During the 2013-2014 school year, the Don Bosco Children Fund supported 4,426 students in Cambodia’s government-run schools and another 637 students in schools managed by Don Bosco Schools Battambang.
The Child Rights Education and Action Movement Project operated out of the city of Bangalore reached out to poor youth in both urban and rural areas of the State of Karnataka in southwestern India to create a culture that will support and uphold the protection of children’s rights. The goal was to encourage and enhance youth participation in the development process of promoting children’s rights and ensuring their care and protection. The project included the formation of more than 450 child rights clubs and the training of 900 teachers and 22,500 children in human rights education. The clubs aim to impart children’s rights awareness to about 75,000 children within a three-year period.
Salesians at Don Bosco Fambul in Freetown, Sierra Leone, have been running a Girls Shelter for the past three years. Here, professional social workers and pastoral workers provide crisis intervention and follow-up care for girls and young women who have been the victims of sexual assault. Those that access services at the shelter are also able to enroll in educational programs that are a part of the broader Don Bosco Fambul network and which train them in the skills necessary to find and retain employment. The training helps to empower them to overcome the discrimination they have faced and gain a greater awareness of their rights. It also helps to build character while allowing the girls and young women the freedom to make decisions that affect their lives, improve their health and boost their work prospects.
Through the Salesian Institute Youth Projects, an organization in Cape Town, South Africa, Salesian missionaries provide shelter, education and workforce development services in an effort to meet the basic needs of the youth they serve while helping them break the cycle of poverty. For the last four years, one of the Salesian Institute’s projects, Waves of Change, has been assisting unemployed youth in finding work in the fishing industry. Requiring minimal levels of education, jobs in the fishing industry can provide a significant income, a stable career path and extensive travel opportunities for poor youth. Some youth employed through the project have had the opportunity to travel as far as Antarctica. The Waves of Change project offers a compulsory five-day life skills course after which students who successfully complete the course are awarded financial assistance towards obtaining the required certification for work in the fishing industry through the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA). During the 2013-2014 school year, more than 300 youth received education and life skills training through this program. Nearly 75 percent have already been placed into jobs within the fishing industry.