MONGOLIA: Don Bosco Center holds annual event harvesting 1,600 kg of squash and other vegetables
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries in Darkhan, Mongolia, operate the Don Bosco Center, which includes agriculture education and a working farm. The center offers a chance for local youth to gain the skills needed for employment. The yield from the farm also supports the feeding program at the local Salesian Youth Center. Because of this, each year the farm holds an “agro-oratory” harvest event.
Despite the challenges of agriculture brought on by extreme temperature fluctuations between seasons, rising from +40° C in summer to -40° C in winter, the Don Bosco Center farm is important to the local community. This year Salesian missionaries, lay staff, and 40 children and older youth from the Salesian Youth Center came together to work on the farm. A total of 1,600 kg of squash and other varieties of vegetables were harvested.
“Each year the harvest brings a great source of pride to the community and enables youth to have some practical hands-on experience on the farm,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Salesian missionaries in Mongolia continue to create programs that assist those in need. From teaching job skills and providing shelters for street children to building full-time youth centers with feeding programs, missionaries are providing for those most in need and helping poor families break the cycle of poverty.”
Since 2001, Salesian missionaries have been providing shelter and education to poor youth in Mongolia. Salesian programs aid students who are having difficulty coping in traditional high school settings and families who are arriving in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar in desperate need of employment. In addition to basic educational courses, missionaries offer auto mechanics, welding and computer classes. In 2003, responding to the growing needs in the community, Salesian missionaries added the Caring Center for street children and the Don Bosco Industrial Training Skills Center. In 2004, the Don Bosco Center and farm, along with the Salesian Youth Center, were formed in Darkhan.
Close to 28 percent of the population in Mongolia is living at or below the poverty line with a significant jump to 35 percent for those living in rural areas. Herders in the countryside struggle to survive as their traditional livelihood dissolves, and there are few job opportunities for young generations. Prior to 1990, the country received nearly 30 percent of its gross domestic product from the former Soviet Union and had a centrally planned economy with the government providing basic goods and a full range of public services. As a result, poverty in the country was very low even in rural areas.
According to the World Bank, the poverty rate jumped to nearly 60 percent after 1990, which was directly linked to the country’s transition to a market economy after the breakup of the Soviet Union and the collapse of Mongolia’s centrally planned economy. Today, in part due to Mongolia’s vast mineral resources and mining, the country’s economy is rebounding and the poverty rate is in decline, having decreased from 38.7 percent in 2010 to where it stands today.
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Salesian Missions – Mongolia
World Bank – Mongolia