SOUTH AFRICA: Salesians Collaborate to Open New Don Bosco Center
(MissionNewswire) Poverty is extensive in South Africa with almost 50 percent of the population living below the poverty line, according to UNICEF. A significant percentage of the population struggles to survive on less than one dollar a day. The country is plagued by high crime rates and gender-based 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.
The Salesians have been working to restore hope in South Africa, particularly among poor youth. From empowering youth (particularly girls and young women) to building schools and teaching trade skills, the Salesians have a long history of affecting change in the country.
Most recently, the Salesians and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians joined forces to create the Don Bosco Center at Ennerdale, in the outskirts of Johannesburg. The Center was 12 years in the making and combined separate programs run by the two organizations, one a skills training program and the other a school. The goal was to create one center offering both services to greater benefit the local youth.
In late May, the new buildings of Don Bosco Center were completed and opened. The Center is dedicated to the memory of Father Declan Collins, an Irish missionary dedicated to working with street children, who was murdered in 2002. His murder aroused anger and great sorrow among the communities he helped. Far from deterring them, his death motivated the Salesians and Daughters of Mary Help of Christians to pursue his dream with greater commitment and collaboration.
“There are many children and youth on the streets not attending school or finding employment,” explains Father Robert Gore, administrator of the Southern African Vice-Province. “A single program was envisioned to provide schooling and trade skills to the poor youth in the community.”
Through the assistance of donors helping to establish the new center, a plot of land was acquired and a number of new buildings erected. Even before they were completed they were occupied by children and older youth anxious to attend school or learn a trade. Don Bosco Center offers courses in hydraulics, carpentry, bricklaying, plastering, computers and electronics.
Today, there are 200 children attending the school and 60 young people enrolled in the various professional courses. Another 60 youth are attending classes to complete their secondary schooling.
“The Salesians see a need in a community and develop programs to meet that need,” adds Father Mark Hyde, executive director of South Africa, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Education is the greatest tool in combating poverty and the collaboration of the two communities will strengthen and enhance the ability to help youth achieve educational success and break the cycle of poverty.”
UNICEF – Poverty Rates in South Africa