PHILIPPINES: Salesian missionaries provide education and social programs at three missions on island of Mindanao
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries have been working with poor youth and their families on the island of Mindanao, a southern Philippine Island, since 1991. They operate three separate Salesian missions in the region: Don Bosco Mati that includes the Sacred Heart parish, vocational training center and high school; Don Bosco Dacudao that includes the parish of Mary Help of Christians; and Don Bosco Buda that has a vocational training center and social programs focused on the needs of indigenous youth.
As the second largest island in the Philippines, Mindanao main island together with adjacent islands has a population close to 25 million. The residents comprise many religions and cultures with the majority being Catholic Christians and others being Muslim and Animist religions. According to Save the Children data, the poverty of Mindanao is striking with close to 40 percent of Mindanao children suffering from hunger and malnutrition.
The Sacred Heart parish and Mary Help of Christians parish serve 3,000 and 2,500 families respectively and between the two, nearly 300 lay mission partners are involved in stewardship.
Don Bosco Mati was entrusted to the Salesians in 1998 and over the years has established itself as a resource for the community which is made up of mostly poor and marginalized families. The Don Bosco Training Center in Mati has served more than 2,000 youth since its launch in 1992.
The Salesian Family at Don Bosco Mati has been slowly growing. Today, there is also an active Don Bosco Alumni Association that helps with projects and other needs within the parish and school. The synergy between the parish and the hundreds of committed lay people make the work at the vocational training center and other social programs run smoothly and effectively.
Don Bosco Buda is the humblest Salesian structure in the whole of the Philippines. It is located in the Bukidnon highland and serves the Lumads, the original Mindanao indigenous people. The Don Bosco Buda training center and its social work for rural indigenous people has slowly developed since 2004 and programs are currently being operated by two resident Salesian missionaries. Together with 15 lay mission partners, they are educating 14 boarding high school students.
“Salesian missionaries are working diligently to meet the needs of poor and indigenous families on the island of Mindanao,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Missionaries provide education and workforce development paired with other social services to help poor youth break the cycle of poverty and have hope for the future. The programs across these Salesian missions are helping youth to improve their lives and in turn, improve their communities.”
Since 1950, Salesian Missions has been providing crucial help in the Philippines—working with at-risk youth, impoverished families and disaster victims. Humanitarian agencies warn of the dangers faced by the most disadvantaged children in the Philippines. According to UNICEF, there are at least 1.2 million children between the ages of 5 and 15 who are out of school and are being left behind. In addition, children born into the poorest 20 percent are almost three times more likely to die during their first five years as those from the richest 20 percent.
Salesian missionaries, supported by funding from Salesian Missions, were on the forefront of disaster relief during reconstruction after the Nov. 8, 2013 Super Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) devastated the country. According to United Nations estimates, 11.5 million people were affected by Haiyan and close to 1 million were displaced. More than half a million were homeless and living in the streets among the debris. Salesian missionaries mobilized all resources and efforts to aid the victims of this and other disasters.
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UNICEF – Philippines