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HUMAN RIGHTS DAY: Salesian Missions highlights child rights programs

To mark Human Rights Day, Salesian Missions highlights education and child rights programs that provide youth the training and support they need for a brighter future

(MissionNewswire) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and the international community in honoring Human Rights Day, celebrated each year on Dec. 10. Human Rights Day commemorates the day in 1948 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been translated into more than 500 languages. This milestone document proclaimed the inalienable rights that everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being—regardless of race, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status.

This year’s theme “Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights” focuses on the need to build back better by ensuring human rights are central to recovery efforts. The UN has stressed the need to “address the failures exposed and exploited by COVID-19, and apply human rights standards to tackle entrenched, systematic, and intergenerational inequalities, exclusion and discrimination.” Human Rights Day also brings attention to the importance of human rights in rebuilding the world and the need for global solidarity.

Through education and social development programming, Salesian missionaries in more than 130 countries around the globe work to ensure that all youth know their rights, are able to fully participate in their communities and have their voices heard.

Whether it’s combating child labor, assisting homeless youth or building schools where children previously had no access to education, Salesian missionaries are on the front lines educating youth on their rights and ensuring access to programs and services they need. Working in more than 5,500 Salesian educational institutions and youth centers around the world, missionaries educate children in some of the poorest places on the planet.

“Education is always our primary focus, but we know youth are dealing with much more than just needing access to education,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “Salesian missionaries also provide education on human rights which provides vulnerable youth a sense of personal dignity and self-worth. At Salesian schools, young children gain an education, learn about their rights and freedoms, and participate in sports and other activities—all in a safe environment that encourages learning and growth.”

In honor of Human Rights Day, Salesian Missions highlights its unique educational programs that are helping poor youth receive an education, understand their rights and find a path out of poverty, bringing them hope for the future.


Catalina and Claudia, former participants in Don Bosco City’s child soldier rehabilitation program, became nurses after graduating from a Salesian school in Colombia.

Don Bosco City, located in Medellín, Colombia*, has been working with youth for 54 years and has saved more than 1,300 from a life of violence. It is estimated that close to 6,000 minors are still utilized as child soldiers with thousands more having reached their 18th birthday after years of combat. The long rehabilitation process at Don Bosco City focuses on three things youth need to learn—how to trust, to have hope for the future and to build relationships with others. Psychologists and teachers work together with youth, giving them the tools for a better future including basic education and more advanced skills training that will lead to stable employment.

Catalina and Claudia, both former participants in Don Bosco City’s child soldier rehabilitation program, have become nurses after graduating from a Salesian school. Their stories were highlighted in “Alto de Fuego” (“Cease-fire”), a Salesian-produced film that follows youth who are rebuilding their lives at Don Bosco City after enduring the violence and exploitation of warfare at a young age. Catalina and Claudia are serving as inspiration for minors who seek peace and want to return to their studies in order to have a future full of opportunities.


Salesian missionaries with the People’s Action for Rural Awakening (PARA) held the National Convention of School Human Rights Clubs in Vijayawada, India, with 600 youth.

Salesian missionaries with the People’s Action for Rural Awakening (PARA) held the National Convention of School Human Rights Clubs in Vijayawada, India, on Dec. 28, 2019. The meeting brought together 600 girls and boys representing 630 schools from two Indian states—Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The conference started with a word from the education minister of Andhra Pradesh, Honorable Adimulapu Suresh, who declared, “The voice of children must be listened to and their opinions must be respected.”

The conference had the theme “We raise our voices, we talk of our rights. Join us.” Children presented the education minister with a memorandum with 10 demands for action from the authorities. Suresh said he was happily surprised to see how the children were so profound and articulate in their views and praised the activities they carried out to promote children’s rights. Praising PARA’s efforts, Suresh said that all students should receive a 360-degree education based on values and that family resources should never be an obstacle to education.


Salesian students won first place in the public services category at the Municipal Prize for Student Initiative on Human Rights in Asunción, Paraguay.

Students attending the Sacred Heart of Jesus Salesian school in Asunción, Paraguay, won first place in the public services category at the Municipal Prize for Student Initiative on Human Rights organized by the Municipal Council of Asunción. Their winning project, “The world of Derni,” is a new educational game focused on teaching children’s rights. The game was subjected to a quasi-experimental investigation to show that applied in the classroom, it produces positive effects on users’ learning rights and duties.

“We are proud and honored to have the opportunity to meet the concerns of youth mobilized and involved in social issues,” said part of the statement from the Municipal Council about the event. The Salesian project was developed by students Camila García, Katherine Cáceres, Alicia Rodríguez and Ramón Cardozo. The project was led by Professor Carlos Molinas.

Salesian missionaries have been working in Paraguay since establishing a church in Asunción in 1896. Through the years, missionaries have operated educational programs to help advance the skills and knowledge of the indigenous population in the area while promoting strong cooperation with leaders of the indigenous culture. Local Salesian programming supports laws in favor of the indigenous populations, the recovery of original lands, sustainable development, the appreciation of cultural values in each ethnic group and the fostering of internal leadership.


More than 5,000 youth received training in employable skills through the Don Bosco Network Tanzania.

Salesian missionaries with Don Bosco Network Tanzania, in collaboration with the prime minister’s office, implemented training apprenticeship programs from September 2019 to May 2020 to train more than 5,000 youth in employable skills. The training took place over six months and included two months of field placement.

The tuition fees were fully paid by the government, and students received a stipend for transportation. The training was held in 13 regions of the country and 18 vocational centers in Tanzania including Don Bosco Dodoma, Don Bosco Iringa and Don Bosco Oysterbay.

The training provided at-risk and vulnerable youth the opportunity to access classroom learning and practical hands-on training to give them an advantage in the labor market. Youth left the training with the skills, knowledge and experience to gain long-term stable employment.

Don Bosco Vocational Training Centers provide a range of course work for students in fields that are hiring and that need qualified employees. These include courses in electrical installation, plumbing and pipefitting, masonry and bricklaying, motor vehicle mechanics, lathe work, IT/secretarial, tiling and terrazzo, tailoring and dressmaking, carpentry, and joinery, and welding and fabrication. Once students successfully complete their coursework, they have a wide range of career prospects in front of them.



COLOMBIA: Two young women gain an education and become nurses thanks to Don Bosco City

ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS)

INDIA: Salesian missionaries with the People’s Action for Rural Awakening hold National Convention of School Human Rights Clubs with more than 600 youth

ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS)

PARAGUAY: Salesian students win first place Municipal Prize for Student Initiative on Human Rights for their game that teaches children’s rights

ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS)

Salesian Missions

TANZANIA: More than 5,000 youth benefit from apprenticeship training program through Don Bosco Network Tanzania

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United Nations – Human Rights Day

*Any goods, services or funds provided by Salesian Missions to programs located in this country were administered in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control.