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MYANMAR: Don Bosco Friend Youth Center offers yearly motorcycle repair course for students

(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries have been offering a motorcycle repair course since 2013. The course is offered through the Don Bosco Friend Youth Center in Mandalay, the second largest city in Myanmar. The center was developed to help youth who are living on the streets access services and education.

The facility, which operates 24 hours a day, is directed by Father Peter Myo Khin along with six paid staff members. It provides temporary shelter, food, health care, and formal and non-formal education. Close to 30 boys, aged 4 to 18, live at the center permanently while dozens more access services on a drop-in basis.

Youth living on the streets are often targeted by traffickers, predators and gang recruiters. In order to feed themselves, youth must beg for money and collect bottles and cans to sell. But too often this is not enough. If they are too conspicuous or assertive with their efforts, the police may throw them in jail, where they are locked together in overcrowded cells with no rights.

The motorcycle repair course stated in May and is educating 15 youth, aged 17 to 24, in the program this year. Youth perform major repairs and are in the workshop every day, except on Sundays, to learn all there is to know about the motorcycle trade. The course provides them with professional skills in motorcycle and car repair along with welding, and it even provides them driving lessons.

The young people who attend the course come from different backgrounds, including the various ethnic and religious backgrounds represented in the country. Some of the youth have had previous trouble attending school while others come from poor families and this is their only chance at an education.

Father Andrew Yan Naing Win, who runs the program, said he always encourages young people to pay attention and learn about all aspects of the industry. Only then can they start planning life after the course ends. He said, “Acquiring certain skills is important so that they can find work in the places where they come from. Many of the participants also follow extra-curricular lessons in the evening hours. I try to motivate them to become skilled and competent professionals.”

Salesian missionaries also address other issues such as problems related to drug abuse. The center offers free food and housing so that youth can live at the school while taking the course. Two students, who previous graduated from the course, recently opened their own bicycle repair shops in the state of Chin and in a village near Mandalay while others have found work as welders on construction sites in Mandalay.

Myanmar is one of the least developed countries in the world, ranking 145 out of 188 countries according to the 2017 Human Development Report. Just over 37 percent of the population lives near or below the poverty line in the country. Poverty rates rise sharply to 70 percent for those living in rural areas. Only about half of school age children complete their primary education.

Salesian missionaries are responding to the needs of children, youth and their families who are in crisis. Not only do programs address desperate poverty, but they also serve people whose lives have recently been impacted by natural disasters and a refugee emergency.



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