MALAWI: Salesian Volunteer Reaches Out to Local Youth While Spending Time at Salesian Program
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries operate a parish and primary and secondary school as well as facilitate technical skills training for disadvantaged youth in Nkhotakota, a town in the central region of Malawi. Over the past 20 years, the Salesian school has tripled the number of students accessing education. Today, 2,700 students attend the school. Patrycja Nabor is a Polish volunteer who spent two months in Nkhotakota and worked with youth in the Salesian program.
Nabor was often drawn to the children who wandered in the main streets of town. They were not in school and had no place to go each day until the activities of the Salesian youth center started in the afternoon. One morning, Nabor met with the youth and asked if they wanted to go for a walk to a nearby village. Hesitant at first, the youth eventually agreed. During the walk, she was able to speak with them and learn more about them and their families. When they reached their destination, they were greeted by all the local people in the village.
“It is unbelievable what a simple walk can accomplish. It opened the hearts of the youngsters and encouraged them to speak of their life, of their plans for the future, and of their dreams,” says Nabor. “Reaching out to the young and staying with them has been an important moment that marked their heart, and certainly mine too. It is worthwhile reaching out to somebody else. You find happiness. You find love and goodness.”
Educating poor youth in Malawi has been an important goal for Salesian missionaries in the country. It is the primary way poor youth are able to break the cycle of poverty and have hope for a brighter future. Being able to attend school in a safe and comfortable environment is one step in ensuring youth are able to make the most of their lessons. Students who finish elementary and secondary school levels are then able to advance on to technical skills training at Salesian educational centers like Don Bosco Youth Technical Institute in Lilongwe.
The Don Bosco Institute is one of the largest private colleges in Malawi and home to more than 600 students and 30 staff. Courses are offered in a wide variety of subjects including accounting, automobile mechanics, construction, electrical engineering, hospitality management, information and communication technology, and fashion, art and beauty.
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