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UGANDA: Book Donation Opens Students’ Eyes to New Opportunities

(MissionNewswire) Nearly 2,000 students in four Ugandan primary schools are exploring the worlds of geography, science and music thanks to new donated books—the result of a partnership with Salesian Missions and World Vision (who received the donated books from Pearson).

“I read one book. The topic was about the systems in the human body. I read about building strong bones in the body,” says one student, Mulesigwa Wyclif, who wrote about what she has learned about bones, muscles and nerves in a thank-you letter decorated along the edges with flowers. The books are available for the students to use during their study time at the library and during their free time.

“A new book in the hands of a student opens him or her up to the opportunities that are available through education. While this is true whether it takes place down the street or across the globe, it is especially powerful in places like Uganda,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco.

Uganda ranks 157 out of 182 countries in the 2007 Human Development Index. The people of Uganda face many significant challenges as they work to rebuild their country after decades of war left many displaced. One such challenge is combating the serious increase of HIV/AIDS, which has left millions of children orphaned, according to UNICEF.

Recently, the war and the its effects on Africa’s children grabbed international headlines with the release of “KONY 2012,” a short film created by the U.S. nonprofit organization, Invisible Children, which focused on Ugandan guerrilla leader Joseph Kony.

“We have seen the devastating results of conflict on individual lives, families and countries. But we are also seeing how people here in Uganda are making enormous efforts to overcome everything that they’ve faced and build better lives for themselves,” says Fr. Hyde.

Another project of Salesian Missions in Uganda is the Don Bosco Children and Life Mission, located approximately 15 km from Kampala. It currently provides services to more than 210 at-risk boys, ages 8-17, through a variety of programs. These include:

  • Educational programs where boys attend primary schools and technical courses to learn job skills.
  • Sports to engage youth.
  • Youth clubs that increase awareness around HIV/AIDS and sexuality.
  • Guidance counseling and life skills training.

“As they grow and develop, boys move through different stages until they reach the final goal of an independent, productive life,” says Fr. Hyde.

In more than 130 countries around the world, Salesian Missions programs range from classroom education and feeding programs to agricultural and trade schools. They have provided orphanages and shelters for homeless youth to more than 3 million children. The focus of the Salesians’ work is on making education a reality, even for the poorest youth, while also providing the essentials such as food and housing.


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