MADAGASCAR: Salesian vocational students build desks for younger students in Salesian elementary schools
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries with the Don Bosco Missions of Turin have begun a campaign to supply new desks to some of Madagascar’s elementary schools that were established by Salesian Bishop Monsignor Rosario Vella. Children from the rural villages, as well as students and former street children from the Salesian-run Notre Dame de Clairvaux Center, will manufacture the desks in their carpentry workshops.
Salesians missionaries in Madagascar sent a request for help to the Don Bosco Missions of Turin because they need more desks for students, more than half of whom do not have one for their use. The desks some of the students have were handmade by the children’s parents and are in poor condition. Salesian missionaries in the Bemaneviky’s mission want to involve the children attending the Salesian Vocational School of Notre Dame de Clairvaux, and their carpentry department, in the construction of 400 double desks. Not only would this provide a suitable learning environment in schools, but would also create a learning project for the students in the vocational school.
“This is a great project for Salesian vocational students in the carpentry courses to undertake,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “This would enable older vocational students to put their trade skills to use and apply what they have learned in classes in order to help younger students have a better learning environment.”
The mission in Bemaneviky was the first Salesian mission in Madagascar. Located in the northern area of the island, the mission stands in a rugged area where roads become impenetrable during the rainy season. Environmental factors make life extremely difficult in the region, but Salesian missionaries were able to open a parish, schools, a health clinic and pharmacy despite limited resources.
Archbishop Rosario Vella, the Diocese’s Salesian bishop, built and started as many as nine schools in less than 10 years. While the structures are poor, they mean everything to the more than 2,000 children who are able to attend and gain an education. The kindergarten and elementary schools are the first step of what could be a longer path through the Saint-Antoine of Bemaneviky secondary school and even on to vocational training or university.
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 and 24 years, according to UNICEF. This number is expected to double by 2025. Due to Madagascar’s poverty, geography and an ongoing political crisis, the country is ranked 158 out of the 188 countries classified by the 2015 Human Development Index of the United Nations Development Program. Women and children in the country are particularly vulnerable to the effects of poverty.
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.
UNICEF – Madagascar