MYANMAR: Opera Don Bosco Foundation supports poor youth in Salesian centers with education and social development programs
(MissionNewswire) The Opera Don Bosco Foundation, located in Milan, Italy, has been active in Myanmar for several years supporting youth through education and social development programs. To help aid youth in need, the foundation operates several Salesian centers across the country.
The Don Bosco Vocational Training Center in the city of Myitkyina is one such center. It offers carpentry, welding, electricity, automotive, tailoring, dressmaking and beautician programs. Over the last 11 years, more than 500 young men and women, aged 18-25 years, have graduated from its programs.
Because the school is located in the northernmost part of Myanmar within the Kachin State, which has a long history of armed conflict, some of the graduates are orphans or come from broken families. The school is operated by a small Salesian community with four Salesian priests, four sisters of St. Paul and eight volunteer part-time teachers/instructors. The volunteers come from various religious faiths including Catholicism and Buddhism and work together to educate the students.
The Don Bosco Vocational Training Center provides room and board to its students and instructors. All of the buildings on the campus are constructed of wood with just a few walls made of brick or cement. Salesian missionaries would like to be able to expand the boarding house to help graduates who already have jobs but have no place to stay in Myitkyina. They are also interested in growing the programs that are currently offered.
Recently the Opera Don Bosco Foundation supported the Don Bosco Center in Myitkyina through the creation of a new study room for young students so they can better focus on their studies. In 2019, the Opera Don Bosco Foundation also inaugurated a new kindergarten building, which is operated by the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in the Hlaing Thar Yar district of Yangon, a suburb inhabited primarily by Buddhists.
“These educational programs help ensure that youth have a chance to gain and education and have hope for a better life,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Beyond education, Salesian missionaries aim to serve the whole person by making sure that basic needs like shelter and nutrition are met in addition to other social service needs.”
Myanmar is one of the least developed countries in the world, ranking 145 out of 189 countries according to the 2018 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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Salesian Missions – Myanmar
World Bank – Myanmar