MALAWI: Salesian Missions donors provide funding for new life skills training program targeting 2,500 at-risk youth
(MissionNewswire) Thanks to Salesian Missions donors, the Don Bosco Youth Center in Lilongwe, Malawi has been able to launch a program that offers counseling workshops, seminars and educational literature that addresses the multitude of challenges faced by youth in the region. The program focuses on life skills training and the avoidance of high risk behavior such as substance abuse and gang participation. The project plan is to enroll 2,500 at-risk youth in this program.
The Don Bosco Youth Center hosts more than 600 youth each day from the surrounding townships of Areas 23, 24, 44, Kawale and Chilinde, among others, and has become a symbol of youth empowerment through sporting activities as well as vocational and technical education. The center conducts motivational evening talks for spiritual and moral growth and also provides leadership training for youth with the aim of equipping them with skills in leading and motivating other youth toward positive behavior and social change in their respective communities.
The Don Bosco Youth Center campus includes facilities for youth development in sporting disciplines and features a soccer pitch and courts for basketball, netball and volleyball. Also on the campus is the Don Bosco Youth Technical Institute which offers commercial and technical courses in fashion arts and beauty, accounting, bricklaying, motor vehicle mechanics, hospitality and information and communications technology.
“Educating poor youth in Malawi has been an important goal for Salesian missionaries in the country,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Through education, poor youth are able to break the cycle of poverty and gain hope for a brighter future.”
Being able to attend school in a safe and comfortable environment is the first step to ensuring youth are able to make the most of their education. Students who complete their elementary and secondary school education are able to advance to technical skills training opportunities at Salesian centers like the Don Bosco Youth Technical Institute in Lilongwe. The new life skills training program ensures that youth are emotionally prepared for the challenges of life while helping them to make good decisions now and in the future.
In Malawi, more than 50 percent of the population lives in poverty and the majority of households have women as the head of the household, according to the World Bank. Located in southeast Africa, Malawi is a landlocked country bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast and Mozambique to the east, south and west.
Agriculture is a central part of Malawi’s economy but land distribution is unequal and crops are highly vulnerable to the region’s frequent droughts. Few houses have piped water and less than one in 10 Malawians have access to electricity. Water is collected from wells or streams and most cook over an open fire. Malawians deal with hunger and malnutrition on a daily basis. According to the U.S. Agency for International Development, 45 percent of the country’s children under age 5 are stunted due to a lack of adequate nutrition. Many children also lack educational opportunities and have few options for improving their circumstances.
USAID – Malawi
World Bank – Malawi