SWAZILAND: Salesian-run Manzini Youth Care provides education and social development programs to aid poor youth and their families
(MissionNewswire) The Salesian-run Manzini Youth Care in Swaziland was established in the 1970s and provides services to marginalized youth. The services include free primary school for children who have dropped out of school due to poverty, two vocational training centers for older youth, residential care for former street children and a drop-in school for street children when they first come in off the streets. Manzini Youth Care also serves the communities surrounding the city of Manzini to help residents improve their living standards, sanitation and food security.
Partial and full scholarships are provided for more than 350 children who live at home but whose parents cannot afford school fees. Youth access education in a range of fields including carpentry, sewing, bakery, welding, electronics, mechanics, refrigeration, upholstery, panel beating and spray painting, printing and screen printing, hair care, auto electrical and plumbing.
Youth are trained by successful business leaders in the field for one year. After that youth are encouraged to start their own businesses to generate income. The Manzini Youth Care Bosco Study Center provides business classes for students who are in grade 12 to help them launch these businesses. Students take courses in the morning and work in the afternoons.
In addition to educational activities, Manzini Youth Care also has sporting equipment on hand for youth to play and connect with their peers in a safe and supportive environment. More than 300 youth attend Sunday programming. Games, talent quests, leadership training and moral classes are offered. Older students take the time to care for and guide younger students during this time. This is excellent hands-on experience for the older students in their quest to become leaders.
“Because Salesian missionaries live within the communities they serve, they see the local need and are able to develop programs to meet that need,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Education is the greatest tool in combating poverty, and the programs offered at Manzini Youth Care help youth achieve educational success and break the cycle of poverty.”
The people of Swaziland face immense challenges including poverty, chronic food insecurity, HIV/AIDS and a climate that is often unpredictable. According to the World Bank, an estimated 63 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, and about 29 percent lives below the extreme poverty line. The HIV/AIDS prevalence of 31 percent of the population is among the highest in the world and life expectancy has fallen to approximately 49 years.
Salesian missionaries work to meet the most basic needs while providing education to youth in need. With education, youth can find and retain employment and in turn give back to their families and communities.
Photos courtesy of Manzini Youth Care
Salesian Missions – Swaziland