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UGANDA: Salesian missionaries are providing education to children and older youth in Palabek Refugee Settlement

(MissionNewswireUganda hosts close to 1.3 million refugees, the majority coming from South Sudan. Others are fleeing from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Somalia, Burundi and several other countries. Salesian missionaries are providing pastoral, social development and educational initiatives to refugees living in the Palabek Refugee Settlement in northern Uganda.

The Palabek Refugee Settlement is currently home to 42,000 people with an average of 300 new refugees from South Sudan arriving each week. It was officially set up in April 2016 to reduce congestion in larger refugee camps in the northwestern corner of Uganda.

Several agencies are involved in providing food and education within Palabek. Salesian missionaries are offering much-needed psychosocial support and pastoral care for thousands of Christian residents. They also operate four nursery schools that educate more than 1,000 children. In addition, there are over 700 children attending Salesian primary and secondary schools and more than 700 families that are supported by various other initiatives.

Currently, Salesian missionaries are in the process of constructing a vocational/ technical training center with the intention of offering life skills and other training to help youth prepare for employment.

There are seven Salesian missionaries who are working at the settlement; two from the D.R. Congo, one from Congo Brazzaville, three from India and one from Venezuela. Father Martin Lasarte recently visited the camp and provided some insight into the work being conducted there. He says, “The work done by Salesians is an eminently pastoral task. There are eleven chapels in the camp where Mass is celebrated and training is offered to young people and families.”

Father Lazar Arasu, a Salesian missionary overseeing the work at Palabek, has noted that in addition to Palabek, other large camps are situated in the northwest districts of Arua, Yumbe, Adjumani and Moyo, each hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees.

Salesian missionaries arrived at the Palabek refugee settlement in June 2017. At the start, the precariousness of the situation forced Salesian missionaries to live in huts with the refugees, but little by little they built simple rooms, sanitation and water facilities, small structures for gatherings and various chapels and schools for children.

Close to 67 percent of Ugandans are either poor or highly vulnerable to poverty, according to UNICEF. While the country has seen some economic growth as well as improvement in its Human Development Index ranking over the last 20 years, the country still ranks near the bottom at 163 out of 188 countries. After decades of war left many displaced, the people of Uganda face many significant challenges as they work to rebuild their country.

Uganda’s literacy rate has improved with 73 percent of the population literate but only 23 percent of Ugandans go on to acquire a secondary education. According to UNICEF, one of the biggest challenges in the country is combating the serious increase of HIV/AIDS that has left millions of children orphaned.



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ANS – Uganda – “Where there are Salesians, education is always a priority.” Palabek refugee camp

Don Bosco Palabek Refugees Resettlement Camp