SOUTH AFRICA: Salesian missionaries provide ongoing food relief and support during COVID-19 pandemic
(MissionNewswire) The prolonged lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic is throwing people in South Africa into despair due to poverty and hunger. Salesian missionaries, staff and volunteers have been working to provide the basic necessities to those most in need.
Volunteers have been making masks and delivering food to more than 400 poor families in the Gong Gong area of the North Cape. Salesian missionaries and sisters in the Ennerdale communities have obtained the necessary permits to distribute food and are waiting to receive food supplies. In addition, they have received a donation of materials to produce hundreds of masks.
“Our surrounding communities are in a struggle just getting by day by day,” said Jessica Poley, a Salesian volunteer in Ennerdale. “What’s very worrying is the young people walking from house to house begging for food. They are aware of all the rules of COVID-19 but have no choice but to go out and beg. Bear in mind, they don’t wear masks while in the streets. We are very concerned about this and have started making masks for the homeless and needy.”
Salesian missionaries have been providing education and social development programs to poor youth and their families long before the pandemic. Salesian programs are ensuring that youth have a firm educational foundation and hope for the future.
For example, 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, a 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.
The Center of Hope provides a home for abandoned youth as well as technical and vocational classes. It is the only recognized school for street children in the country. Every day before the pandemic, 40 to 90 children and teens attended classes. To meet the lockdown orders, Salesian educational programs are taught online. Salesians have had to adapt to changing circumstance—something they are good at doing because they live in the community they work and know the local need better than most.
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 has been the hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS crisis in the world. There is an urgent need for education to help prevent the spread of the deadly virus and to help lift youth out of poverty.
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Salesian Missions – South Africa
UNICEF – South Africa