LIBERIA: Salesian-run Mary Help of Christians School educates 560 students each year
(MissionNewswire) On Jan. 21, students in their last year at Mary Help of Christians School, located in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital city, met with the school’s dean, Father Solomon Gbaki, before their final exams. Operated by Salesian sisters, Mary Help of Christians School provides a foundation of education and support for young students who would otherwise have limited opportunities. The school started in 1993 and serves just over 560 students. The school also has a feeding program, which serves more than 100 students each day.
This is one of many schools that Salesian missionaries operate in Liberia. Salesians have been present in Monrovia since 1979 and manage parishes, youth centers, schools and oratories.
In 2019, Don Bosco Technical High School, also in Monrovia, launched a vocational training course for electro-technicians. An afternoon class is available to high school students, which complements their current educational path. There is also a morning class for young workers to help them obtain certification to improve their options in the workforce.
The launch of the electro-technician training was part of an initiative that included the renovation of existing space at Don Bosco Technical High School to transform it into a workshop. The initiative aimed to respond to the needs of the labor market while ensuring youth have access to vocational and technical training that assists them in finding long-term stable work. The electro-technician course is available each year to 90 high school students and 30 uncertified electricians.
“Salesian missionaries in Liberia have had to overcome many challenges including high rates of poverty that continue to leave many children and families in need,” says Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Education is always the primary focus of Salesian programs. Since Salesian missionaries live and work in the communities they serve, they are able to recognize local needs and customize programs and services to meet those specific needs, greatly impacting local youth. This new training program is meeting a need in Liberia’s current workforce while helping youth tap into an industry sector in need of skilled, certified workers.”
Liberia is still recovering from civil war and the deadly Ebola epidemic that affected 10,678 people with 4,810 reported deaths, according to the World Health Organization. An estimated 64 percent of Liberians live below the poverty line and 1.3 million live in extreme poverty, out of a population of 4.6 million, according to the World Food Programme. Food security is also affecting 41 percent of the population and making chronic malnutrition high.
Whether working to rehabilitate former child soldiers or assist young women in overcoming barriers to education, Salesian programs in Liberia are providing opportunities for youth to live up to their potential through both academic and social programs. Salesian volunteer programs and Catholic schools have helped more than 2,300 students and their families.
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Salesian Missions – Liberia
World Bank – Liberia