UGANDA: Fire destroys dormitory that housed 100 boys attending local Salesian secondary school
(MissionNewswire) In the early morning hours of May 29, a fire destroyed a dormitory at St. Mary’s Namaliga, a Salesian secondary school in Bombo, Uganda. The dormitory housed close to 100 boys who attend the school. At the time of the fire, all of the boys were at morning prayer at another location on the school grounds and no one was injured.
The local fire brigade was able to put out the fire before it spread to other neighboring buildings, including the Salesian Vocational Training Center, which is close to the dormitory. The fire, however, fully destroyed the dormitory building and all of the boys’ material possessions. They currently have nothing but the clothes they were wearing at morning prayers.
Father Gaudens Murasandonyi, a Congolese Salesian missionary working at the Salesian center, said that the boys are now housed in other locations on the Salesian complex and are waiting to find an alternative solution for their accommodation. On learning of the disaster, local bishop Msgr. Paul Ssemogerere, of the diocese of Kasana-Luweero, visited the center to bring comfort to the children and to the community.
The Salesian community, in collaboration with the local Salesian planning and development office, is in the process of planning fundraising initiatives to raise money to be able to restore some of the items the boys lost, particularly items for school, and also rebuild the dormitory. All of the boys affected come from families who are living in conditions of poverty. For some, attending the Salesian school is their only opportunity to gain an education. Because the boys are from distant villages, living at the school was necessary for them to engage in their studies.
St. Mary’s Namaliga secondary school is among the more than 5.500 Salesian schools around the globe that demonstrate the power of education as an effective means of breaking the cycle of poverty while giving the most vulnerable youth a sense of personal dignity and self-worth. Salesian-run vocational, technical, professional and agricultural schools provide practical skill training helping youth to become productive, contributing adults in their communities.
In Uganda, Salesian schools not only provide a space for learning, they also help meet the basic needs of their students. Elementary and secondary schools offer a feeding program where meals are provided to students during the school day and serve as an incentive for families to send their children to school. Access to nutritious meals makes students better prepared to take part in school activities and focus on their education.
“In Uganda, Salesian schools not only provide a space for learning, they also help meet the basic needs of their students,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “We have seen the devastating results of conflict on individual lives, families and countries, but we are also seeing how people, especially poor youth in Uganda, are making enormous efforts to overcome the challenges that they’ve faced to build better lives for themselves. Access to education is critical for youth to learn and develop the skills for employment and success later in life.”
Today, more than 41 million people live in Uganda, half under 15 years of age. Many children and older youth have to deal with diseases such as malaria, respiratory infections, diarrhea and HIV/AIDS. The Human Development Index ranking has noted that in its most recent assessment, Uganda still ranks near the bottom at 163 out of 188 countries.
A Uganda National Household Survey conducted in 2016 shows that the number of people living in poverty now stands at 10 million, up from 6.6 million in 2013. While the country has seen some economic growth, the poverty rates in some areas of the country, particularly in eastern Uganda, have increased. The majority of Ugandans, about 80 percent according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. After decades of war left many displaced, the people of Uganda still face many significant challenges as they work to rebuild their country.
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