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MADAGASCAR: Salesian reflects on school year

Youth at the Notre Dame de Clairvaux Center in Ivato, Madagascar.

Missionary praises work of youth and children in their classes


(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries are providing education and support for poor youth at the Notre Dame de Clairvaux Center in Ivato, Madagascar. Father Erminio de Santis, originally from Italy, is one of those Salesian missionaries. He has been serving in Salesian centers in Madagascar for the past 40 years. For 20 of those years, Fr. de Santis has worked at the Notre Dame de Clairvaux Center.

“This time has passed quickly,” he said. “I want to say right away that the results of the first quarter of the school year were encouraging. Only nine of the 270 young people in the vocational center did not obtain the grade average, but we have no doubt that they will achieve it before the end of the year. We have publicly rewarded the best in each class. Some of them have obtained a scholarship, to the great joy and relief of their families who are freed from small school expenses.”

Fr. de Santis also praised the hard work of the children at the oratory who are in the elementary school. The school is focused on recovery for those students who have been abandoned on the streets. He noted, “The recovery work there is more difficult, not many of them having even started school until they were 10 or 11 years old, or having abandoned it a long time ago. But the results of the past years show us that almost everyone obtains their elementary certificate, and then the children come to train in our vocational center.”

Fr. de Santis reflected on one young student who didn’t show up after the holidays. Niríko, age 17, had begun to help his mother during the holidays, and he did not feel like abandoning her to go back to school. He had been with the Salesians for three years, completing his elementary education and advancing on to vocational training to become a carpenter.

His home life is challenging. His mother lives in a wooden hut with two young children and tries to earn money by serving a local family. Fr. de Santis said, “Niríko has compromised his education by not returning but how can we blame him for supporting his mother. We try to help where we can but family support like this is difficult because financially it’s already difficult to feed and train the children.”

Salesian missionaries have 11 centers and work in several locations in the country, including the Don Bosco House in Ivato in the outskirts of the capital of Antananarivo.

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 youth between the ages of 10-24, according to UNICEF. This number is expected to double by 2025.



ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS) 

ANS – Madagascar – The silent but valuable work of the Notre Dame de Clairvaux Salesian mission

Salesian Missions – Madagascar

UNICEF – Madagascar

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