INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ERADICATION OF POVERTY: Salesian Missions highlights educational and human rights initiatives that help break the cycle of poverty
(MissionNewswire) Salesian Missions joins with the United Nations and many organizations around the globe in honoring the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty held on Oct. 17 each year. This year also marks the 70th anniversary of the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The UN notes that, “It is important to recall the fundamental connection between extreme poverty and human rights, and that people living in poverty are disproportionately affected by many human rights violations.”
This year’s theme, “Coming together with those furthest behind to build an inclusive world of universal respect for human rights and dignity,” focuses on the nexus between human rights and extreme poverty. According to the UN, “It underscores the importance of reaching out to people living in poverty and building an alliance around their priorities with citizens from all backgrounds to end extreme poverty. It recognizes the important mutual roles and relationships we have with each other based on our common and equal dignity.”
Through education and social development programming, Salesian missionaries in more than 130 countries around the globe work to break the cycle of poverty and bring a sense of dignity to all those they serve. Missionaries also 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 ensuring those in need have access to programs and services. Working in more than 5,500 Salesian educational institutions and youth centers around the globe, 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,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Salesian missionaries provide education on human rights which gives 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 the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight initiatives that help to break the cycle of poverty for youth and their families.
Don Bosco City’s Preparing for Life program in Medellin, Colombia works to ensure the full restitution of rights for youth ages 8 to 12 years who have been living on the streets or at-risk of violence and exploitation. One of Don Bosco City’s primary programs, it guarantees participating youth access to lodging, food, clothing, education, healthcare, recreation, civic education, psychosocial support and pastoral assistance.
In the program, youth engage in recreational activities, play with their peers and are kept safe from dangers such as drugs and violence that plague the area. Participants also engage in artistic activities including handicrafts which help to strengthen ties to identity and traditional beliefs.
Don Bosco City is one of the oldest and largest programs for street children in Latin America. Since its start in 1965, the program has rescued more than 83,000 boys and girls. Through the program, Salesian missionaries offer a multi-pronged approach designed to address the broad social issues that contribute to the poverty and exploitation these youth face while training them in the skills necessary to break the cycle of violence and poverty. Currently, there are 900 youth living and receiving education at the program.
Close to 100,000 children have been educated about their rights through 907 special clubs and courses offered in schools across India. This education is thanks to Salesian child rights education programs offered through the CREAM project (Child Rights Education and Action Movement–Action Movement and Education on Rights of Children) which is sponsored by the Office of Development of the Salesian Province of Bangalore (BREADS–Bangalore Rural Education and Development Society).
The project was initiated in December 2012 to reach the most disadvantaged children in 10 districts in the Indian state of Karnataka, especially in high-risk urban and rural areas. The goal being to work with youth to build a culture of protection of children’s rights with an emphasis on improving the potential of minors as well as ensuring the sustainability of activities and results. The project has entered a second phase working to reach 150,000 youth through child rights education.
Salesian Missions donors have provided funding that has enabled Salesian missionaries in Mahajanga, Madagascar to expand an elementary school and refurbish outdated classrooms. In order to help youth break the cycle of poverty and hopelessness, Salesian missionaries in Madagascar operate elementary, middle and high schools throughout the country.
Salesian programs in Madagascar focus on providing educational opportunities, increasing literacy and laying a foundation for education well past the compulsory education required in the country. Access to education and training in social and life skills encourages youth to find livable wage employment, breaking the cycle of poverty.
Nearly 30 percent of children in Madagascar drop out of primary school while many others live in communities that have no schools at all. The country lacks qualified teachers and many children aren’t able to access even a basic education. Often parents are unable to pay for school or they force their children to work to help support the family. Some youth find the distance from home to school is insurmountable.
Since 2007, 41 elementary schools, four middle schools and three high schools have opened their doors to students who otherwise would not be able to gain an education. Outdated and dilapidated classrooms have been refurbished providing a better environment for children to learn in.
For youth who face danger when leaving their remote villages, Salesian missionaries keep them safe through a network designed to protect them from kidnapping, exploitation and other dangers. These networks or “villages” provide stable housing with families, teachers and other school personnel—and have succeeded in keeping children safe and school attendance high.
Salesian missionaries operate an “Action to combat irregular migration through support of local development in the Tambacounda Region” project in Tambacounda, Senegal, a town of 80,000 people. This is part of the broader “Stop Human Trafficking” campaign Salesian missionaries are operating in several African countries.
In Tambacounda, there are few opportunities and prospects, especially for young people who represent the large majority of the Senegalese population and serve as a primary source of support for families. Many youth leave the area in search of opportunity but can fall victim to exploitation and trafficking.
The project is part of an initiative by VIS and Don Bosco Missions in Turin, Italy to develop projects and launch awareness campaigns to both stop and educate about the dangers of migration related to human trafficking. With a focus on youth leaving countries in Africa in search of a better life in Europe, the campaign aims to prevent young migrants from becoming victims of crime and exploitation.
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