SOLOMON ISLANDS: Australian Rotary Brings Support to Don Bosco Rural Training Center, Hope to Students in Need
(MissionNewswire) With almost 40 percent of the population living in poverty, the Solomon Islands is one of the poorest countries in the Pacific region, according to UNICEF. About 20 to 25 percent of youth in the country never attend primary school with 30 percent of those attending, never completing. Limited access to education and an adult literacy rate of less than 35 percent perpetuates the cycle of poverty from generation to generation.
Eighty-four percent of Solomon Islanders reside in rural areas and rely on subsistence farming for their livelihoods. There is very limited access to health and other social services and the poor to non-existent access to reliable transport, electricity and telecommunications infrastructure compounds already challenging economic conditions. With the majority of youth living in remote areas with limited educational and employment prospects, overcoming poverty is an uphill battle.
The Salesian-run Don Bosco Rural Training Center in Tetere, Solomon Islands is working to bring opportunities to poor youth in rural areas. More than 120 young men and women are enrolled at the school to learn farming and technical skills. Courses are offered in human development and ethics and the planting and care of crops such as rice, corn, vegetables, root crops and fruit trees as well as basic fish farming and forestry. There are also courses in basic mechanics, carpentry, electrical work, dressmaking and computer skills. In addition, students can study literacy and music in the evening.
Most of the students are from poor families and many have dropped out of traditional schools. At the Don Bosco Rural Training Center these students are getting a second chance to acquire skills that will enable them to find a job to support a family. And thanks to an on-going partnership with North Balwyn Rotary located in Vitoria, Australia, the Don Bosco Rural Training Center now has some much needed program and infrastructure support.
“We are very thankful for the help we receive from the Rotary. It has been a source of great encouragement for the Salesians, teachers and students,” says Father Joseph Cong Thanh, rector of Don Bosco Rural Training Center. “The Rotary’s support has injected new life and enthusiasm into Don Bosco Tetere with their ideas, knowhow and practical suggestions.”
Over the last few years, the Rotary has made several donations to the training center. This monetary support has funded a three-month intensive training course in rice cultivation for the center’s deputy principal as well as the installation of three new water pumps, a concrete rice-frying platform, 400 mosquito nets and timber for new bunks at the student boarding house.
Most important to the center was the Rotary’s assistance with the purchase and installation of a windmill to ensure the supply of fresh water to the rice paddy fields that are integral to a feeding program for the students and teachers. Considered one of Don Bosco Rural Training Center’s greatest achievements is expanded rice production throughout the Solomon Islands by former students who applied the skills learned in Don Bosco programs in their home villages.
“Don Bosco Rural Training Center is one of the best hopes in the Solomon Islands of producing a new generation of people with the energy, skills and integrity to turn the country around,” says Mr. Wayne Morris, Past District Governor of Rotary International.
Salesians – Australia- Pacific
UNICEF – Solomon Islands