GLOBAL: Salesian Missions highlights social development programs that aid poor youth and their families
(MissionNewswire) Salesian Missions joins the international community in celebrating the International Day of Families celebrated each year on May 15. The day is organized by the International Federation for Family Development, in partnership with SOS Children’s Villages International, and the collaboration of UNICEF and the Division for Social Policy and Development of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
Each year, the International Day of Families focuses on a particular theme. This year the theme “Families and inclusive societies” explores the role of families and family policies in advancing Sustainable Development Goal 16 in terms of promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development.
The United Nations (UN) notes that families play an important role in creating and sustaining peaceful and inclusive societies as well as have a significant impact on child development. It notes that children who grow up in stable and supportive families tend to develop positive cognitive, emotional and social characteristics and become stable and peaceful adults.
“The family unit plays an important role in helping to prepare youth for the future,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “While our primary focus is on education, we also aim to provide other wrap around services that help youth and their families to have healthy and productive lives.”
In honor of the International Day for Families, Salesian Missions is proud to share some of its programs around the globe that provide education and services that help support youth and their families.
In 2002, in the village of Abobo in western Ethiopia, a group of Italian and Spanish volunteers set up a local health clinic in collaboration with local Salesian missionaries. Today, the Abobo Health Center is the symbol of the community and provides health services for the more than 4,000 local villagers. Having expanded its reach over the years, the health clinic also serves the approximately 20,000 people living in the area and the 200,000 people in the entire region.
Two Spanish physicians, Tere and Maria, are the soul of the health center and aim to provide medical care for those who are affected by malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and various infections common in the region. Thanks to their passion and care, the clinic also has a special focus on maternal and child care, two of the most at-risk populations in the country.
Together they are engaged in providing wellness exams and regular screenings for pregnant women, as well as vaccinations to mothers during pregnancy. Tere and Maria are also focused on preventative care and routinely provide medical care to pregnant women to prevent diseases such as such as anemia, hypertension, malaria and various infections that also cause serious consequences to the newborn child. They provide an average of 40 maternal vaccinations per week and attend to 30 births per month.
Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative” is bringing water to the Marathwadi village in India. The project was implemented by local Salesian missionaries through Bosco Gramin Vikas Kendra (BGVK). Successive years of hardly any rainfall in the villages of Marathwadi and Kolhewadi, in the districts of Ahmednagar and Beed, had made the life of villagers miserable. Agricultural productivity was going down, cattle were not producing enough milk, the groundwater table was declining, people were migrating and children were suffering.
To improve water security and water management, BGVK focused on facilitating groundwater recharge and retention to improve soil moisture, de-silting the canal bed, increasing green cover and laying a pipeline to the village. BGVK also completed an excavation of two dams for de-silting and recharging village wells, as well as constructing two drinking water tanks of 10,000-liter capacity each. The local villagers provided the technical support and manual labor, while Salesian Missions provided the financial support.
This project has benefited 1,200 people in two villages and saved at least 1,000 hours each day collectively for people out searching for water. It has also made the life of young girls and women in the villages more comfortable as they traditionally have the primary responsibility of finding water for their families.
Youth and their families in four Salesian programs in Madagascar have access to better nutrition thanks to a recent shipment of rice-meals through an ongoing partnership between Salesian Missions and Feed My Starving Children, a nonprofit Christian organization committed to “feeding God’s children hungry in body and spirit.” Our Lady of Clairvaux Center in Ivato, Don Bosco House in Fianarantsoa, Salesians of Don Bosco in Betafo and Salesians from Don Bosco in Mahajanga were all beneficiaries of this donation.
At the Salesian-run Our Lady of Clairvaux and the Rinaldi School, students who are taking part in vocational training are able to access feeding programs at the school to ensure that they have balanced meals and can focus on their studies. There are 70 students who are hosted at the school’s boarding school. Many of the students are orphans or are from very poor families who are unable to pay for them to attend school or have the proper nutrition to be prepared for school.
Other beneficiaries are from the Don Bosco House in Fianarantsoa. Noelson, 12 years old, lives with his mother Emilienne and his little sister Annie, 6 years old. Emilienne had been affected by very severe respiratory tuberculosis as well as by severe malnutrition. Because of this, she had not been able to properly care for her children. Annie was also quite sick with extra-pulmonary tuberculosis and other disabilities. Noelson had been forced to give up school and find odd jobs on the street to help care for his mother and sister. To help the family, Don Bosco House provided rice-meal to feed the family two meals each day. Because they have been able to access proper nutrition, Emilienne has recovered, and she has strength to work again. Annie is becoming stronger, and Noelson is finally able to go to school.
Nepal Don Bosco Society has a focus on transforming poor communities through social development programs, education and vocational training. The organization was also instrumental in the immediate aftermath and long-term recovery after two earthquakes in 2015 caused massive destruction in the country. A devastating 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal on April 25, 2015, followed by a second earthquake that 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.
Nepal Don Bosco Society began in 1992 with the center of Dharan. Salesian missionaries then branched out to other cities including Sirsia in 1996 and in the capital city of Kathmandu with two centers—Lubhu in 1996 and Thecho in 2001. Later, centers in Baroul and Chakkarghatty opened in 2014 in eastern Nepal and finally Biratnagar in 2017. A total of seven houses are now operated by Salesian missionaries. Missionaries offer quality education and social development services to help poor youth and their families.