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HAITI: Youth take part in music education to stay off streets

Lakay Don Bosco musical program helps more than 100 youth escape from violence


(MissionNewswire) Youth from the Lakay Don Bosco musical program, which is known as “With our musical instruments we fight violence,” recently put on an event to showcase their talents. There are more than 100 youth involved, who are from Lakay Don Bosco and the surrounding La Saline neighborhood on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The goal is to support youth through musical education to help them escape the violence in their neighborhoods.

“Salesian programs provide more than traditional education and include courses on music, art, and sports,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Youth need opportunities for safe places to play and connect with adults and their peers. The Lakay Don Bosco music program is helping youth stay off the streets and learn a skill they enjoy.”

Lakay Don Bosco was established in 1988 in Port-au-Prince by an Italian Salesian priest. Father Attilio Stra launched the project to answer the needs of children and older youth who had been rejected and marginalized and lived in situations of neglect, negligence, or serious social risk. For more than 30 years, that has remained the mission of Lakay Don Bosco.

Currently, the Lakay project includes five facilities in Port-au-Prince and one, divided into two sectors, in Cap-Haïtien. Each of these structures was created to respond to needs of children and older youth living on the streets. In total, nearly 5,700 minors benefit from this project, which is facilitated by 57 staff members.

The Lakay project centers are each specialized for the various stages of life and types of assistance needed by youth. At Foyer Lakay, children live as a family for a period of four years until the completion of an apprenticeship in a technical profession. Lakay Program for Street Children provides shelter and educational services for street children in Cap-Haïtien and Port-au-Prince.

Salesian missionaries began working in Haiti in 1935 in response to the Haitian government’s request for a professional school. Since then, Salesian missionaries have expanded their work to include 11 main educational centers and more than 200 schools across the country.

Each of the main centers includes a number of primary and secondary schools, vocational training centers, and other programs for street children and youth in need. Salesian programs are located throughout Haiti, including in the cities of Port-au-Prince, Fort-Liberté, Cap-Haïtien, Les Cayes and Gressier. Today, Salesian missionaries in Haiti provide the largest source of education outside of the Haitian government with schools providing education to 25,500 primary and secondary school students.



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