SOUTH AFRICA: Salesian Institute Youth Projects resumes programs, ensures safety for students and teachers
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries in Cape Town, South Africa, have been responding to COVID-19 with relief supplies, psychological support and prevention campaigns. In the early months of the pandemic, the Salesian Life Choices program, part of the Salesian Institute Youth Projects, phoned 900 people, sent 800 messages and reached over 50,000 users on Facebook with prevention messages to combat coronavirus.
The Life Choices program also provided remote psychological counseling sessions for adults and youth, professional orientation sessions for teens, and job search advice for their parents. Staff members have also provided 220 vouchers to families for the purchase of food.
As educational lessons have started again, Salesian missionaries are focusing their attention on ensuring students and teachers have the information and resources they need to help prevent the spread of the virus. Salesians have donated sanitizing equipment and approximately 1,000 liters of disinfectants to 30 different schools. They also operate a medical emergency hotline and provided 563 meal tickets.
The Salesian Institute Youth Projects in Cape Town restarted programming on June 1 when the Minister of Fundamental Education announced that students could return to school. As a new school year starts, Salesians want to ensure that their programs are adhering to legal requirements and public health measures to keep everyone safe.
“Safety is the priority of everyone working, living and accessing programs in Salesian educational centers and institutes,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “As students resume their education, Salesian missionaries and teachers have more to address than just basic subjects like math and science. Students are in need of support, nutrition and awareness information to ensure they remain vigilant in their hygiene and prevention efforts.”
Since 1910, the Salesian Institute Youth Projects has been helping homeless, unemployed and impoverished youth in Cape Town, the second-most populous city and legislative capital of South Africa. Through the organization’s programs, Salesian missionaries provide shelter, education and workforce development services, meeting the basic needs of the youth they serve while helping them break the cycle of poverty.
The Salesian Institute Youth Projects consists of five main programs—an outreach program, the Center of Hope for homeless youth, the Learn-to-Live education program and two workforce development programs. The projects are managed by a diverse team, some of whom live on the premises to support youth in the hostel and outreach programs.
Poverty is extensive in South Africa with more than half the population and more than 63 percent of children living below the poverty line, according to UNICEF. A significant percentage of the population struggles to survive on less than $1 a day. The country is plagued by high crime rates and violence against women and girls, and it has been the hardest hit in the world by the HIV/AIDS crisis.
Salesian missionaries have been working to restore hope in South Africa, particularly among poor youth. From empowering girls and young women to building schools and teaching trade skills, missionaries have a long history of affecting change in the country.
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Salesian Missions – South Africa
UNICEF – South Africa