MADAGASCAR: Salesians support young prisoners
Youth receive meals, take part in activities
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries deliver meals and provide social support for boys in the state-run rehabilitation center in Antananarivo, Madagascar. Salesians also provide engaging recreational activities.
Data released by the United Nations Children’s Fund showed more than 1 million children are deprived of their liberty in prisons around the world. In some countries, youth are arrested and detained for reasons such as running away from home, sleeping on the streets, and skipping school. They are tried as adults, condemned to serve their sentence in adult prisons and receive equal treatment with adults by the police.
Salesians aim to help youth get through these tough prison sentences by showing them compassion, which will help with reintegration into society once they are released.
“Music, theater, sports, as well as spiritual formation through the celebration of Mass, catechism, and the screening of religious and educational documentaries are some of the activities that we provide for youth,” said Father Giovanni Corselli, a Salesian missionary who has been in Madagascar for nearly 40 years and is director of the Ankililoaka house.
Fr. Corselli added, “On average, there are around 100 boys, ages 9-17, but the number of minors detained varies according to the roundups that the policemen carry out at night or during the day and where they surprise teenagers running around trying to steal. Often, it is the parents themselves who put them there because they do not know what to do with them.”
During the week, the young prisoners are subject to rigid prison rules which do not provide play and free time, but on Sundays, they can participate in sports and recreational activities. Games and raffles are organized at the center two or three times a year. It is also an opportunity to distribute useful items for daily life. The prizes are clothes, school supplies and chocolate, among other items. As the authorities are unable to provide regular and balanced meals, Salesians distribute full meals to the young prisoners through the novices, who then eat with them.
Fr. Corselli explained, “It is delicate and complex to manage those who have committed a crime with those whose only fault is living on the streets without the support of their families or children whose families are unable to care for them. We have tried to save some of them, but with others, we haven’t succeeded because they need constant care and it’s just not possible for us.”
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 support.
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.
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Salesian Missions – Madagascar
UNICEF – Madagascar