SOUTH SUDAN: Salesian students from Italy volunteer to use skills learned from vocational and technical education to aid Salesian hospital
(MissionNewswire) Students, parents and others from the Salesian House in Sesto San Giovanni, Italy, spent several weeks of their summer break in the city of Tonj, South Sudan. The six Salesian student volunteers are taking vocational courses in thermal-hydraulic, electric and motor repair/installation and were able to provide maintenance support to a newly built hospital and small house for volunteers.
The students were supported on the trips by their parents and other members of the Salesian Family including friends and supporters from a number of Salesian parishes and programs in Northern Italy’s Lombardy region, including former Salesian pupils from Treviglio and volunteers from Val Camonica.
Two groups of volunteers made trips to Tonj, the first reaching the city in mid-June and the second arriving in July. The groups were joined by Father Omar Delasa, the head of the Salesian-run Tonj Project Onlus which made the trip possible. The Tonj Project Onlus built and launched a new hospital in 2014 thanks to a contribution by the Pesenti family of Bergamo.
During the trips, the visiting volunteers were utilized to provide maintenance updates to both the infrastructure and electrical and plumbing systems for the hospital and a small house for volunteers. The students were also able to install a photovoltaic system for producing electricity and set up a water purification system for the water well.
“Volunteers with various skills including bricklayers, plumbers, carpenters, electricians, nurses, farmers and animal breeders are all needed to help the ongoing work of Salesian missionaries in the region,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco.” Through their volunteer work, students are able to apply the skills they learned in the classroom to a real-world environment while helping those who are in need.”
South Sudan is expansive and largely rural with 83 percent of the population residing in rural areas. Poverty is endemic with at least 80 percent of the population defined as income-poor and living on an equivalent of less than $1 per day, according to the World Bank. More than one third of the population lacks secure access to food.
The country gained its independence from Sudan in 2011 but is facing an ongoing civil war that started in December 2013 and has resulted in a dire humanitarian crisis. Responding to the ongoing civil strife is nothing new to Salesian missionaries in South Sudan who are dedicated to the programs and services they are providing across the country.
In addition to humanitarian aid, Salesian missionaries provide education, social development services, nutrition programs and health clinics for poor youth and their families. For some, the education offered at Salesian schools is the only opportunity to gain an education and the skills necessary for future employment.
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World Bank – South Sudan
Any goods, services, or funds provided by Salesian Missions to programs located in this country were administered in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control.