UGANDA: Salesian missionaries hold marathon to bring awareness to domestic violence
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries in the town of Kamuli in Uganda organized a marathon in honor and celebration of the Immaculate Conception of Mary which falls on Dec. 8. The event, coordinated by the Salesian Youth Ministry, was used to bring awareness to the issue of domestic violence in communities. Many of the youth who took part are from the local Salesian oratory and Salesian school and joined together with Salesian staff and the community to engage in the initiative.
Escorted by the police, and with the Red Cross on hand to ensure the good health of all the participants, the runners ran 13 km during the race. The winners were a 13-year-old girl competing in the women’s run and a young boy from the oratory competing in the men’s run. Both received bicycles as a reward for their victories.
At the end of the race, Salesian Philippe Gbao, vicar of the Kamuli Salesian house and the person in charge of pastoral care in the Kamuli community, explained to the crowd the significance of the event and the Immaculate Conception feast day. He also took the opportunity to highlight the importance of offering a comprehensive education to all.
The competition provided an opportunity to bring awareness to the work of Salesian missionaries on behalf of poor and at-risk youth. Salesian missionaries and other staff were able to highlight the great work happening at the Salesian vocational training school in Kamuli and at the oratory.
A former mayor of the city of Kamuli who also participated in the marathon, thanked Salesian missionaries for their work with youth in the local community and invited all those who were present to be ambassadors of Don Bosco in promoting the importance of education and social support for poor youth.
“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.”
The number of Ugandans living below the poverty line declined from 31.1 percent in 2006 to 19.7 percent in 2013 where it still stands today. While the country has seen some economic growth as well as improvement in its Human Development Index ranking over the last 20 years, it 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. While 73 percent of Uganda’s population is literate, only 23 percent of Ugandans go on to acquire a secondary education, according to UNICEF. Salesian programs give Ugandan students a space for learning while also helping to meet their basic needs.
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UNICEF – Uganda