SIERRA LEONE: Workshop promotes well-being of youth
Don Bosco Fambul holds workshop “Youth4Life” for students from 10 schools in Freetown
(MissionNewswire) Don Bosco Fambul, located in Sierra Leone’s capital city of Freetown and one of the country’s leading child-welfare organizations, recently held a workshop entitled “Youth4Life” that focused on issues concerning the well-being and integral development of youth in Sierra Leone.
The event was attended by students from 10 schools in Freetown and touched on various topics including ecology, the need to preserve the ecosystem and taking care of animals in their environment. Other topics focused on the importance of the gift of one’s life and the adoration of God. During the workshop, the Salesian Youth Movement presented about the importance of learning a trade by attending one of the Don Bosco Fambul courses.
Don Bosco Fambul has been on the forefront of efforts to help save young women who have faced abuse and prostitution, and to rehabilitate street children and reunite them with their families. The organization is directed by Salesian Father Jorge Mario Crisafulli and has a staff of 120, including Salesian social workers who go out to the streets, slums and marketplaces.
Most recently, Don Bosco Fambul launched a new therapeutic center with four large buildings, a clinic, accommodations for volunteers and social workers, a house for the Salesian community, and a chapel. Police agencies, lawyers and child protection agencies are working collaboratively with Don Bosco Fambul in the fight to protect children. Don Bosco Fambul’s clinic will be able to issue forensic reports about abused minors arriving at the center. In turn, police will be able to conduct investigations early and arrest the perpetrators.
At the core of Don Bosco Fambul’s work is a program for street children. The success of the street children rehabilitation program is credited to its holistic approach which focuses on meeting basic needs (food, clothing, a safe place to sleep) in addition to personalized medical, psychological, pedagogical, social and spiritual care. Rehabilitation is a gradual process that includes formal classes, daily games, sports, music, singing, drama, dancing, counseling and prayer. The parents and extended families of participants are contacted several times by social workers before final reunification.
“Education helps break the cycle of violence and poverty,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Don Bosco Fambul has been an integral part of the social welfare system in Sierra Leone helping youth come in off the streets where they face poverty and are at risk for exploitation. The aim is to help them live safely while getting the emotional support they need and the education that will help them live independently and live a better life.”
Salesian missionaries have been serving in Sierra Leone since 2001 when they began working to rehabilitate former child soldiers through Don Bosco Fambul. Young people also face significant challenges in accessing education in the country. With too few teachers and school buildings destroyed in the war, resources are thin. Persistently high illiteracy rates mean that an estimated 70 percent of Sierra Leone’s youth are unemployed or underemployed.
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Salesian Missions – Sierra Leone
UNICEF – Sierra Leone