MADAGASCAR: Salesian missionaries at the Don Bosco House in Ivato provide support to Salesian staff and youth in need during coronavirus pandemic
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries have been working in Madagascar to support families with food and hygiene supplies to help stop the spread of coronavirus. To date, there have been 15,871 cases of the virus and 215 deaths. The lack of international tourist travel because of restrictions and lockdowns has caused many to fall deeper into poverty.
Salesian missionaries have been living and working in Madagascar since 1981. Today, they have 11 centers and work in several locations, including the Don Bosco House in Ivato in the outskirts of the capital of Antananarivo, where Salesians have focused a good deal of support.
Although schools in Ivato have been closed, Salesians still continue to pay their teachers and employees, including offering them a one-time bonus. Workers who were forced to remain at the Don Bosco House because of restrictions were given a 15 percent pay raise.
Salesian missionaries distributed kits with 8 kilograms of rice, 2 kilograms of dried vegetables and a bar of soap to all the students. Each week, Salesians also distribute a package containing 5 kilograms of rice and 1.5 kilograms of dried legumes to 85 final year students for when they return home on the weekends. A second distribution of rice and dried vegetables has already started for all students who are forced to stay at home.
In addition, Salesians have provided a small package of rice and dried legumes to the students who attend the Don Bosco Oratory recovery school, also in Ivato. In some extreme situations, when both parents of a students have been left without any income, Salesians have provided cash aid.
“The coronavirus pandemic has not only been a risk to people’s health, but the resulting lockdowns have put strain on people’s livelihoods,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Salesians in Madagascar and around the globe are providing nutritional and health support to help people through this challenging time.”
Prevention measures are being strictly observed in all Salesian centers, schools and programs, including providing masks and social distancing guidelines for common areas such as the classrooms, the refectory, the study room and the dormitory. Soap and water are also being provided in additional areas for hand-washing.
Madagascar, an island in the Indian Ocean off the coast of East Africa, is one of the poorest countries in the world. Seventy percent of Madagascar’s almost 19 million people live in poverty with 5.7 million of those being youth between the ages of 10-24, according to UNICEF. This number is expected to double by 2025.
For close to 80 percent of the country’s inhabitants who live in rural areas and practice subsistence farming, living conditions have been steadily declining in recent years, particularly when it comes to access to transportation, health services, education and markets. Because of the lack of hygiene and access to safe drinking water, coupled with chronic malnutrition, people in Madagascar often suffer from respiratory ailments, tuberculosis and hepatitis.
In order to help youth break the cycle of poverty and hopelessness, Salesian missionaries in Madagascar operate elementary, middle and high schools throughout the country. The focus of the schools is on providing educational opportunities, increasing literacy and laying a foundation for education well past the compulsory education in the country. Access to education and training in social and life skills encourages graduates to find livable wage employment, breaking the cycle of poverty.
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UNICEF – Madagascar