RWANDA: Salesian missionaries respond to coronavirus pandemic with awareness initiative and food support
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries in Rwanda are responding with awareness initiatives and food distribution to the growing needs of those in their centers and communities in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Father Pierre-Célestin Ngoboka, the provincial superior of the Salesians of Don Bosco in the African Great Lakes Province, has initiated the distribution of food support to Salesian employees and needy citizens within the province, which includes Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda.
The food delivery has already started helping vulnerable citizens in Rwanda in the cities of Kigali, Kabgayi and Rango. More than 400 families have benefited from the Salesians’ help across the province during this time of hardship. Staff and students from Don Bosco Muhazi Technical-Vocational School, located in the Gasabo district of Rwanda, have also benefited.
Even before the pandemic, Don Bosco Muhazi required additional food support to help purchase and store food monthly so that it can provide healthy and balanced meals for the students. Salesian missionaries living and working in the region report that the majority of the population near the school has very low purchasing power and does not have access to a balanced basic diet. Most families are only able to have enough for one meal a day.
As a result of malnutrition, many of the students attending Don Bosco Muhazi fall below normal growth ranges. The school is working to address food shortages so students have the proper nutrition needed to focus on their studies. This will also help to avoid student drop out. During this pandemic, this ongoing food support is more important than ever.
“Despite Rwanda’s impressive economic growth, in particular in the region where Don Bosco Muhazi is located, household food insecurity and undernutrition remain a challenge due to low agricultural productivity,” says Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Salesian missionaries provide food support even during normal times to ensure that youth can access healthy nutrition which feeds both body and mind, enabling students to attend school and focus on their studies.”
Salesian missionaries also continue COVID-19 community awareness-raising campaigns by encouraging all communities to abide by the guidelines from the government and the World Health Organization as the pandemic is seriously affecting all living aspects in the countries. The campaign is being conducted via online communications among other means.
Salesian centers are promoting hand-washing with soap, avoiding unnecessary movement, and practicing social distancing among other strategies. Salesian missionaries continue to give support to people in need while advocating for more funding to be able to reach the increasing number of hungry people.
Many of the country’s orphaned children are the tragic result of a violent civil war. Half of all children drop out of primary school and 2.2 million people—22 percent of the population—face critical food shortages.
After bravely overcoming the trauma of the 1994 genocide, Rwandans looking to transform their country have made remarkable progress. Still, much remains to be done. Close to 39 percent of Rwandans live in poverty, according to the World Bank. Rwanda is a rural, agrarian country with about 35 percent of the population engaged in subsistence agriculture and with some mineral and agro-processing.
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Salesian Missions – Rwanda
UNICEF – Rwanda