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REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Don Bosco Vocational Training Center launches new dressmaking workshop for women in the community

(MissionNewswire) The Don Bosco Vocational Training Center in Brazzaville, the capital and largest city of the Republic of Congo, educates close to 600 students. The students are overwhelmingly male but there are 26 girls in attendance. The center recently created a dressmaking workshop to help educate young women in the community who have an interest in the subject.

These young women are disadvantaged and are living in conditions of poverty. They are young women who have long since passed the age for school, and in many cases are single mothers. The course includes both cutting and sewing classes targeted specifically for this population. After the professional training, the goal is to help these young women start a small income-generating activity compatible with the needs of the market.

The project, supported by the Don Bosco Mission office of Turin, Italy, will train 35 women initially. By helping these young mothers gain the skills to earn an income, the benefit impacts their entire family. Poverty and the lack of work opportunities are fertile ground for gender inequality, which manifests itself in every area of ​​public and private life. This is why learning a profession gives women the opportunity to claim the value of their role within the family and society.

“There are many barriers to education for young women and girls, but Salesian programs around the globe work to eliminate those barriers and provide education and skills training to all,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Salesian missionaries have seen that young women who are able to access education are more often able to achieve financial independence and make better and healthier choices that affect not only themselves, but their families and communities as well.”

In addition to training for future dressmakers, the Don Bosco Vocational Training Center offers courses in mechanics, welding, carpentry, construction, agriculture and breeding, electrical installations and air conditioning. The center employs 28 teachers who provide the coursework.

The Republic of Congo’s population is concentrated in the southwestern portion of the country, leaving the vast areas of tropical jungle in the north virtually uninhabited. One of the most urbanized countries in Africa, it has 70 percent of its total population living in a few urban areas.

In recent years, industrial and commercial activity has declined rapidly in rural areas, leaving rural economies dependent on the government for support and subsistence.

According to Rural Poverty Portal, poverty has worsened in the Republic of Congo since the 1980s, resulting in half the country’s population living below the poverty line. Close to 65 percent of the country’s poor live in rural areas where nearly 50 percent of the population is unemployed with little access to education or long-term stable employment.

Most living in rural areas are small-scale farmers or fishermen. Those most vulnerable to living in conditions of poverty are young people and women who are the primary agricultural producers and processors. While more than 75 percent of people living in urban centers have access to water, access drastically decreases to 11 percent in rural areas. In addition, more than one third of children under age 5 who live in rural areas suffer from malnutrition.

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Sources:

ANS – Republic of the Congo – A workshop for future dressmakers

Rural Poverty – Republic of Congo

ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS)