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KENYA: Bosco Boys Programs Help Street Youth Gain an Education and Hope for the Future

(MissionNewswire) The Salesian-run Bosco Boys program provides education and technical skills training to former street children in Nairobi, Kenya and is currently serving more than 600 boys and girls in primary and secondary schools and universities. The program also operates two nursery schools in the slums of Kariua and Kuwinda.

Youth living in Nairobi’s slums are at risk for exploitation, forced labor and other abuses. Few attend the later stages of school as compared to those living in Kenya’s more rural areas. The few schools serving this disadvantaged community are beyond the financial means of most families. UNICEF noted that while Kenya has free and compulsory education, youth in poverty still cannot afford to attend school resulting in close to 90 percent of children from poor households failing to complete their basic education.

The Bosco Boys program provides education and workforce development opportunities. Students in the program who complete their primary education are assisted with secondary education or are advised to choose technical training in sister institutions. The secondary education is most often provided at Don Bosco Technical Secondary School in the town of Embu, northeast of Nairobi, but can also be at another school close to a student’s home where they can be easily monitored.

“The school attracts youth that do not do well on national college exams and provides them an alternative opportunity to acquire marketable skills that can help them make a living,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “The tuition cost of the training is highly subsidized to make it affordable for the low income student population in Kenya.”

In addition to the education provided, youth in the program are given professional counseling to help them overcome any difficulties they may face in their lives. Through counseling and other activities, the program gives youth the tools to develop a positive healthy outlook on life and the education and training necessary to find stable employment.

Two-year technical training programs are offered through Bosco Boys in a wide variety of vocational skills including tailoring, car engineering/mechanics, carpentry, electrical work and welding as well as secretarial skills and a full spectrum of computer-related job skills. After graduation more than 80 percent of graduates are employed in their fields of study. Many students go on to attend university or establish their own businesses and become entrepreneurs in Nairobi.

Eric Matata, a graduate of the Bosco Boys program, recently received his law degree from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa. He credits the rigorous education and support he received while at Bosco Boys for helping to achieve his educational dreams. Matata received financial assistance to pay for university from Heinz Rovelring through the offices of Don Bosco Mondo, Germany, as well as support from the Jasani Memorial Sterling Trust. Mr. Mathenge, a volunteer counselor from the Bosco Boys program, also contributed towards Matata’s tuition fees.

“All youth deserve a chance at a better life,” adds Fr. Hyde. “At Bosco Boys, Salesian missionaries help young people take responsibility for their own lives and train them in the skills necessary to find and retain employment in order to support themselves and improve their communities.”

Despite the steady growth of Kenya’s economy, according to UNICEF, more than half of the country’s population lives below the poverty line on less than $1 a day. UNICEF also notes that Nairobi is home to 3 million residents, most of whom endure lives of extreme poverty in the city’s slums. The most vulnerable are families and children living in these urban slums and in areas of the country most affected by HIV/AIDS. Many do not have access to healthcare, nutrition, sanitation or education.

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Sources:

Salesians of Don Bosco Province of Eastern Africa

UNICEF – Kenya Statistics

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