UNITED STATES: Third Grade Students at the Academy of St. Francis of Assisi Host Shoe Drive to Benefit Salesian-run City of Hope in Zambia
(MissionNewswire) In February, third grade students at the Academy of St. Francis of Assisi in New Jersey organized a shoe drive to benefit children at the Salesian-run City of Hope in Lusaka, Zambia. The shoe drive was inspired by Robert, a nine year old student at the Academy of St. Francis of Assisi, as part of a Martin Luther King “I Have a Dream” community service assignment. The class selected Robert’s idea as its community project.
Recently, staff from the Salesian Missions Office for International Programs visited Ms. Crisafulli and her third grade students at the Academy of St. Francis of Assisi to talk about the shoe drive and share more information about the City of Hope and the students who will benefit from the shoe donation. Salesian Missions will coordinate the shipment and distribution of the shoes later this Spring.
“It was really wonderful to see so many students, especially the very young, focused and happy to be giving to others in need,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive Director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Salesian missionaries in Zambia are working with poor children and their families by providing education and social programs. Having appropriate shoes to wear is important for students’ overall well-being and health.”
The Salesian-run City of Hope, an organization and school, was created to meet the needs of those living in the most severe poverty in Zambia’s capital city, Lusaka. The vast majority of children attending City of Hope programs are children who have been abused or live on the streets and those who are victims of child trafficking.
Currently, there are more than 800 students who attend the City of Hope’s Open Community School which serves those suffering from malnutrition, lack of education and family deprivation. Basic education is offered to youth between the ages of 9 and 17. Primary school classes make up the first four years after which students take the government’s grade seven examinations. Most City of Hope students do not have the opportunity to attend other schools because of a lack of financial means.
The City of Hope also offers a shelter that is home to at-risk girls referred through the social welfare system, the police and other institutions and organizations. Many have been orphaned and have nowhere else to go. There are currently 36 girls who live at the shelter ranging in age from 7 to 22 years. The shelter is not an orphanage but rather a safe place for girls to stay while they gain an education and make the transition either to living with other family or to a more independent life. To date, more than 150 girls have received services through the City of Hope’s shelter.
“The City of Hope is helping youth in Zambia lay the foundation for a better future,” adds Fr. Hyde. “Donations such as shoes help our students to remain healthy while avoiding risk for injury, infections and diseases caused by walking barefoot. Healthy students are more prepared in the classroom, better able to focus on their educational pursuits and go on to create better lives for themselves while improving their communities.”
Poverty is widespread in Zambia with 64 percent of the total population living below the poverty line. For those living in rural areas, the poverty rate rises to 80 percent, according to UNICEF. Over the past three decades, incomes in Zambia have fallen steadily and people do not have enough money to meet basic needs such as shelter, nutritious food and medical care.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic has taken its toll on Zambia’s children. More than 20,000 households in the country are headed by children whose parents have died because of HIV/AIDS. Many of these young children are desperate for adult support.
UNICEF – Zambia