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UNIVERSAL CHILDREN’S DAY: Salesians Highlight Programs that Bring Hope to the World’s Poorest Youth by Providing Education, Opportunity to Break the Cycle of Poverty

(MissionNewswire) Each year, Nov. 20 marks Universal Children’s Day, which is aimed at having countries focus on the welfare of the world’s children. The day also marks the day in which the Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in 1989.

Salesian Missions is one of the many nonprofit organizations working in collaboration with the United Nations and UNICEF to help the world’s poorest youth break the devastating cycle of poverty. Salesian Missions  holds a “Special Consultative Status” with the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

To mark the day, UNICEF released the paper Generation 2025 and beyond: The critical importance of understanding demographic trends for children of the 21st century. This report forecasted a four percent increase in the global population of children by 2025, but added that child population-growth will shift significantly to countries in the South.

Almost one in three children under the age of 18 will be born in Africa, the study reported. It went on to note that deaths of children under the age of five will continue to increasingly occur in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in pockets of poverty and marginalization of heavily populated, low-income countries, and in least developed nations.

“What is important is whether the world, as it prepares for the post-2015 agenda, takes account of this fundamental and unprecedented shift,” said a co-author of the study, David Anthony of UNICEF in a recent press release. “We must do everything possible so these children get an equal chance to survive, develop and reach their full potential.”

“For least developed countries, serious consideration must be given to how to meet the needs of children, especially in health and education,” UNICEF said in the release.

The UNICEF report recommends targeting investments to areas where children will be born; focusing on neglected groups, especially in high-population, middle-income countries; reaching the poorest and most isolated households; and urgently tackling the issue of old age dependency.

In honor of Universal Children’s Day — focusing on the new UNICEF report — Salesian Missions is proud to highlight programs providing hope and opportunity for youth that focus on the health and education for the world’s poorest.


More than one third of Cambodians live below the poverty line – surviving on less than $1 a day –according to UNICEF. To provide youth with greater opportunity, Salesian Missions partnered with the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Education to open six vocational training centers. Approximately 1,300 youth ages 16 to 21 are preparing for their futures in two-year vocational training programs.  With their diploma, students take with them skills in mechanics, welding, computers, printing and communication – as well as the hope for a new Cambodia. New programs are already beginning supporting providing more youth a path out of poverty. At Don Bosco Vocational Center Kep first year students have already commenced programs in social communication, front office assistance, housekeeping and tailoring and electricity.


Ethiopia is home to more than four million orphans, or 12 percent of all children.  More than half a million of these were orphaned as a result of AIDS, according to UNICEF.  The CARING Orphans and Vulnerable Children project in Ethiopia is funded by USAID to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia. The program increases access to youth orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS, and provides holistic care, community reintegration, and support for 60,000 orphans, street youth and children who have been made vulnerable due to HIV/AIDS. To date, more than 13,000 orphans and vulnerable children have received services ranging from shelter and care, formal education, non-formal education and economic empowerment activities.


Building the skills of India’s rapidly rising workforce is a key focus for reducing poverty, according to the World Bank. Nearly 44 percent of India’s work force is illiterate and only 17 percent has secondary schooling. To increase the potential of India’s youth, Salesian Missions is facilitating four projects dedicated to skills training in rural areas. The projects are a collaboration between Bosco Academy for Skills and Employment (BASE) and the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) of the Indian government. Young people are trained in their interest areas, taking into consideration their unique capacities, skills and talents. Choices include welding, chauffeuring, auto mechanics, data entry operation, desktop publishing, secretarial skills, retail sales, IT services and others.

South Africa

In South Africa, youth are saying “yes” to learning job skills through the Don Bosco “Youth Employment Skills” project (YES). The YES project began in 2002 with a grant from USAID, focused on youth who want to enter the job market. Youth study four sets of skills: computer literacy and office management, computer maintenance and repair, bricklaying, and tiling and mosaic. They also learn life skills, set personal goals and learn resume writing and interview skills. A full-time job placement counselor works with the business sector regarding potential job opportunities. Empower girls through education South Africa has one of the world’s highest crime rates, according to UNICEF. While violence impacts everyone, gender-based violence is a significant problem. Girls who live on the street face violence, drug addiction, abuse and other dangers. The “Unwind Your Mind” camps are specifically-designed to encourage girls to talk about what brought them to the street and consider their goals for the future. They also looked at the importance that young women play in society.


Uganda ranks 157 out of 182 countries in the 2007 Human Development Index. The people of Uganda are working to rebuild after decades of war which left many displaced, as well as to combat the serious increase of HIV/AIDS, which has left millions of children orphaned. The Don Bosco Children & Life Mission offers hope to at risk boys, ages 8 to 17, through a variety of programs. As they grow and develop, boys move through different stages until they reach the final goal of an independent, productive life.



Salesian Missions – Our Work

UNICEF –  On Universal Children’s Day, look to the future, says UNICEF

Unicef paper – Generation 2025 and beyond: The critical importance of understanding demographic trends for children of the 21st century