MOZAMBIQUE: Salesian Vocational Training Programs Helps Gain the Skills Needed for Employment
Opened by Salesian missionaries to meet the needs of poor youth, the Don Bosco Institute at Maputo provides vocational and technical training to poor youth in Mozambique. The institute offers youth a chance to gain skills needed to find and retain long-term employment once they graduate. This vocational training builds off primary and secondary schooling Salesian missionaries provide in the region. Father Francisco Pescador, a Salesian missionary in Mozambique since Dec. 2003, has seen the challenges faced by people in the country and the growth of Salesian programs over the years.
“Mozambique continues to be one of the countries with the lowest rate of human development and life expectancy is short. People are hungry and have no access to basic services. This is true of more than half the population,” says Fr. Pescador.
Salesian missionaries are working with children and youth providing education and social development services to help youth break the cycle of poverty and have hope for a better life. Fr. Pescador recounts the story of two young children who accessed Salesian programs and have gained success in life because of them. Gabriel and Isabel, twins who are now 18, started in the program early in life when they had nowhere else to turn.
“Twelve years ago, Gabriel and Isabel arrived in Mozambique and asked for a place where they could stay and receive support. Their father had been dead for some time, and they had just lost their mother,” explains says Fr Pescador. “The children were very small and the Salesian orphanage does not accept children so young. They had swollen bellies and infected lungs and were in need of assistance. A cook at the Salesian program suggested entrusting them to her niece, a past Salesian pupil who was very active in the parish. We agreed, thinking it was preferable that the two siblings remained together and be placed in a family. The family atmosphere of love and attention was the best thing you could offer these children,” says Fr Pescador.”
Gabriel and Isabel grew up within the Salesian family and attended Salesian schools while accessing other social development services as they grew up. Today, Gabriel has attended professional training courses at the Salesian Institute of Moamba and wants to continue his studies. Isabel is about to finish high school.
“Only God knows what will happen in the future. What we do know is that they are happy, they have been brought up in a family environment and have received an education that will help that have a good start in life,” concluded Fr Pescador.
Mozambique has made great strides in reducing poverty, according to the World Bank. But with nearly 50 percent of the population still living in poverty, progress has not been fast enough. Poverty is concentrated in rural areas, and even with growth within the county, the regions of Zambezia, Sofala, Manica, and Gaza saw an increase in poverty in the 2000s.
More than 70 percent of those living in poverty, reside in rural areas and rely on farming and fishing to make a living. The vast majority of the rural population lives on less than $1.25 a day and lacks basic services such as access to safe water, health facilities and schools.
World Bank – Mozambique