SAMOA: Salesians Worry about Youth Returning to School after Cyclone Evan
(MissionNewswire) Cyclone Evan, a powerful cyclone that hit Samoa Dec. 13-14, left at least four dead and flooding and structural damage in its wake. Another 10 people remain missing and thousands have been left homeless. The Salesian-run programs in the area are working to assist people in local communities.
“All the Salesians and the Salesian Sisters are doing well,” reports Father Chris Ford, who works at Leauva’a, near the capital Apia—an area that was hard-hit by the cyclone. “None of the Salesian facilities were severely damaged. In most cases there has been some damage due to the floods and wind but nothing serious in nature.”
The overall outlook for the local residents is not as encouraging. Electricity is lacking almost everywhere and damage to the electricity network is extensive. Even water is in short supply. Residents were told officially that water services will not be restored for at least two weeks.
The worst hit were local crops, especially bananas and breadfruit. The vast majority of the population relies on agriculture for its livelihood and while farmers were able to save part of the crop, they are more worried about what the next few months will bring. Fishing has also been affected since shoals of fish have moved away during the cyclone.
“The greater risk now is that many young people will not be going back to school in February, at the start of the new school year,” adds Fr. Ford. “For this reason the Don Bosco Samoa Project Development Office is developing a sponsorship plan for educational activities.”
According to UNICEF, close to 25 percent of Samoans already live in poverty and the cyclone is expected to bring a general price hike to goods in the area. Don Bosco Samoa works directly with poor and disadvantaged youth to provide hope and a positive future through education, training, and sporting, recreational and cultural activities. The Salesian St. Michael’s parish in Leauva’a has a thriving youth program offering a multitude of recreational, musical, cultural, religious, sporting and recreational activities for young people.
The Salesians have been providing education and services to poor youth for well over 25 years. In June 2011, the Salesian Province of Australia formally opened the new Don Bosco High School and Vocational Center at Salelologa on the island of Savai’i, Samoa. Currently there are about 120 students in the school. This new educational facility is in addition to several other Salesian-run facilities in Samoa.
ANS – Cyclone Evan’s damage
Salesian Missions – Samoa
UNICEF – Samoa