LIBERIA: Salesian Programs Educate Youth and Instill Responsibility
(MissionNewswire) Salesian Missions has been working in Liberia since 1979 when they opened their first vocational technical institute there. Nearly two-thirds of Liberia’s 3.5 million residents fall below the poverty line and families are struggling to rebuild in the wake of a devastating civil war. Since their arrival more than 30 years ago, the Salesians have developed programs with a focus on providing youth with skills to transform their lives and their country.
Among the several Salesian-run programs in Liberia, the Mary Help of Christians School and the Don Bosco Youth Center both provide a foundation of education and support for young students who would otherwise have limited opportunities to better their lives.
“Our school started in 1993,” says Father Matthew Udoka, Principal of Mary Help of Christians School. “It now serves just over 560 students and includes a feeding program which serves a little over 100 of those students. This program ensures that youth in need receive a nutritious healthy meal.”
After school, from 4 to 6 p.m., students have access to the Don Bosco Youth Center. Located in the capital city of Monrovia, the center gives former child soldiers and other young people the opportunity to experience some of the joys of childhood.
“Many youth lack inherent skills and haven’t been given much of an opportunity,” explains Father Udoka. “We are here for them. This is the only youth center of its kind here in Monrovia. Youth are here to play games but also to share with one another.”
Youth can participate in recreational activities and sports. They receive recreation counseling each day in activities from chess to football. Some participate in a cultural troupe where they sing, dance, act, practice African acrobatics and even perform at local functions.
But it’s more than just play and recreation at the youth center. In addition, youth have access to vocational training and academic courses. The center also offers a women’s development program for women to learn self-reliance.
“We help youth take responsibility for their own lives,” adds Father Udoka. “We don’t want to be here to give them everything they need. We want them to take responsibility for their own lives if only in some small way.”
Salesians of Don Bosco in Libera – Video
Salesian Missions – Liberia