IVORY COAST: Salesian missionaries working to address conditions of extreme poverty in the face of the pandemic
(MissionNewswire) Like many countries in Africa, the Ivory Coast has been seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the cases of infection and death are still quite contained, experts believe the virus may spread rapidly in forthcoming months. Conditions of poverty have been aggravated by the rigid confinement and lockdown in many sectors of the country. It has plunged the most vulnerable populations into a dramatic situation, taking away their most basic resources for survival.
Salesian centers in the Ivory Coast have also been impacted. For example, the Salesian girls center Foyer Marie Dominique Village, located in Abidjan and caring for 30 children, urgently needs food, hygiene materials to prevent infections and medical assistance.
Salesian missionaries have been working with poor youth and their families in Abidjan for more than 25 years. They provide social development services, education and workforce development to help youth break the cycle of poverty and become contributing members of their communities. To help respond to the issue of violence against children, the Salesian community of Abidjan provides several programs and awareness activities related to the protection of children, in addition to a new psychological care center.
“Salesian missionaries living and working in cities across the Ivory Coast focus their attention on working with youth in need and their families to provide education, food security, health clinics and workforce development services,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “This work is more important than ever, but resources are limited. Salesian missionaries are doing the best they can right now given the circumstances, and they continue to assess needs and seek resources to support the poor youth and families they serve.”
According to the World Bank, 46 percent of those living in the Ivory Coast live in conditions of poverty—with more than a quarter of the population living in severe poverty on less than $1.25 a day. The Ivory Coast has one of the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in West Africa. While a wide range of national and international initiatives focus on HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention and testing, the collapse of public health facilities in the north as a result of years of conflict has made the situation worse.
During the country’s time of war, Salesian missionaries provided life-saving shelter, food and security for the thousands fleeing violence and seeking refuge on Salesian grounds.
Today, Salesian missionaries continue their work providing shelter, education and social development services to youth and their families. They also work with the victims of war to heal the country’s deep wounds. They listen, help victims seek compensation and work for social reconciliation between opposing groups. Known for their work with child soldiers around the globe, Salesian missionaries are also providing training for youth, some who had been aggressors during the war.
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Salesian Missions – Ivory Coast
World Bank – Ivory Coast