INTERNATIONAL DAY OF FAMILIES: Salesian Missions highlights programs that support poor youth and their families through education and social development services
(MissionNewswire) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian and other international organizations in honoring 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 in collaboration with UNICEF and the Division for Social Policy and Development of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
“While our primary focus is on education, we also aim to provide other wrap-around services that help youth and their families lead healthy and productive lives while making a positive impact on their communities,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions.
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 support poor youth and their families.
Don Bosco Development Society provides hope and support for those who have few resources and little hope for the future. The Salesian-run organization is working in communities in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, India. The organization runs a group to help women access skills training and other support to help them launch their own businesses.
Sharmila Thale recently accessed support through the self-help group. She resides with her family at Wadala in Mumbai. A few months ago, she lost everything due to a fire caused by an electrical short circuit. The fire destroyed all that she had, including her home, household items and other belongings. When her family was nearly homeless, she approached Don Bosco Development Society and Father Rolvin D’Mello, the organization’s executive director, for help.
Don Bosco Development Society was able to come to her aid. Thale shared her dream of starting a small sandwich business to provide for her family. Don Bosco Development Society first trained her to manage the small-scale business, and then provided a sandwich maker thanks to sponsorship from the partner organization Auxilium India in Seregno, Italy. This helped Thale start a small stall where she began selling different types of sandwiches. Today, Thale earns around Rs 900 per day.
REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
On the outskirts of Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of the Congo, the Don Bosco Vocational Training Center serves 600 youth each day, many from a local working-class neighborhood. The center recently created a dressmaking workshop to help educate young women in the community who have an interest in the subject.
Salesian missionaries want to ensure that young women have the same access to education and skills training as young men. The training course is working to attract women, including single mothers and those who left school. The course includes both cutting and sewing classes and helps young women gain employment as seamstresses.
In addition to the training as seamstresses, the first 35 trainees in the program will also receive help to start a small income-generating business at the end of the course. The goal is to help these young women support themselves and their families and feel like active and recognized citizens in society.
The Salesian-run Manzini Youth Care in Swaziland was established in the 1970s and provides services to marginalized youth. The services include free primary school for children who have dropped out of school due to poverty, two vocational training centers for older youth, residential care for former street children and a drop-in school for street children when they first come in off the streets. Manzini Youth Care also serves the communities surrounding the city of Manzini to help residents improve their living standards, sanitation and food security.
Partial and full scholarships are provided for more than 350 children who live at home but whose parents cannot afford school fees. Youth access education in a range of fields including carpentry, sewing, bakery, welding, electronics, mechanics, refrigeration, upholstery, panel beating and spray painting, printing and screen printing, hair care, auto electrical, and plumbing.
Youth are trained by successful business leaders in the field for one year. After that youth are encouraged to start their own businesses to generate income. The Manzini Youth Care Bosco Study Center provides business classes for students who are in grade 12 to help them launch these businesses. Students take courses in the morning and work in the afternoons.
The Don Bosco Community Center, one of only a few food pantries in the Village of Port Chester, New York, United States, is providing an average of 230 meals a day to support people who can’t otherwise shop because of the statewide order to stay in place and the closure of local businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Don Bosco Community Center has been providing local community services for more than 80 years, benefiting low to moderate income residents, as well as advocating for immigrants and their families. During normal operations, the Don Bosco Community Center provides a soup kitchen, food pantry and educational programming for youth and adults.
It also offers services to new immigrants and Port Chester’s long-time residents who have lived near or in poverty for years. Services are open to all adults including parents in need, the elderly, the unemployed, the working poor, immigrants, day laborers and the homeless.
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Photos courtesy of Manzini Youth Care