WORLD CHILDREN’S DAY: Salesian Missions highlights social and educational programs
Day promotes international togetherness and awareness on children’s issues
(MissionNewswire) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and countries around the globe in recognizing World Children’s Day, also known as Universal Children’s Day. Celebrated each year on Nov. 20, the day was established in 1954 to promote international togetherness and awareness on children’s issues worldwide. To date, 194 countries have signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and are bound by international law to ensure it is implemented.
This year, youth will “take over” high-visibility roles in media, politics, business, sport and entertainment normally held by adults to shine a spotlight on issues that matter to them. UNICEF noted, “From climate change, education and mental health, to ending racism and discrimination, children and young people are raising their voices on the issues that matter to their generation and calling for adults to create a better future.”
Father Timothy Ploch, interim director of Salesian Missions, said, “Through education and social development programming, Salesian missionaries in more than 130 countries around the globe are working to break the cycle of poverty and bring a sense of dignity to all those they serve. Missionaries are also working to ensure that all youth know their rights, are able to fully participate in their communities and have their voices heard.”
Whether it’s combating child labor, assisting homeless youth or building schools where children previously had no access to education, Salesian missionaries are making sure those in need have access to programs and services. With more than 5,500 Salesian educational institutions and youth centers, missionaries are educating children in some of the poorest places on the planet.
In honor of World Children’s Day, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight social and educational programs that benefit children around the globe.
Salesian missionaries in the Maturacá mission in Alto Rio Negro, the Brazilian part of the Amazon rainforest, provided support for the Yanomami Indigenous community thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. Salesians have been in the region for more than 40 years and have a school, center and parish.
During the funding period from October 2021-2022, Salesians visited four villages and provided recreational and sporting activities for 646 children. In addition, Salesians provided religious sacraments and made home visits for health and education support. Funding also provided for a range of support including gasoline for motorboats, a 4×4 car rental, diesel for a power generator, educational materials and meals for students, batteries for solar energy, and personnel costs.
One of the biggest challenges is accessing the community given the distance and terrain to reach the mission. Salesians take many journeys between the Maturacá base and smaller Yanomami communities. Fuel for boats and a car to travel over the gravel roads are important for their work.
Salesians work against illiteracy and poverty while cultivating and preserving traditional culture. Education also includes information about healthy living and protecting the environment. More than 500 people are involved in the education projects.
Students in a Salesian school in Myanmar* have laptop computers thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. Donor funding was utilized to purchase 25 laptops to help the students with their education and for them to learn basic computer skills. The school set up internet and the electrical wiring for a new computer room for the 300 students as well as hired skilled staff to teach the course. The donation was sent in 2022.
Father Khun Myat Victor, provincial economer in Myanmar, said, “We have just set up the computer room and the first group of young people have begun their lessons on basic computer skills.”
Myanmar has suffered political violence and instability since the military coup took over power in February 2021. There has been ongoing violence and chaos, and schools have been shut because of this and the COVID-19 pandemic. Salesians opened schools for youth to get back to their education, which they had been without for two years. Classes focus on English, computers and math.
Sixty-three youth who attend the Don Bosco Center in Rundu, Namibia, had a healthy breakfast before school thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. The youth ranged in age from 7-15 and were from poor families. This food helped to ensure they had at least one healthy meal a day.
“One of the youth who benefited from this donation is an abandoned young boy who always thanks and prays for the people who donate to us,” said Father Louis Malama, the Salesian parish priest who oversaw the project. “This breakfast program means a lot to the youth and families we serve. We appreciate the donors who help support our work.”
Don Bosco Youth Center, opened in 2002, provides shelter and services for homeless youth. The center offers computer classes for 65 students, preschool for 70 children and school for 104 students who have dropped out of formal education. In addition, more than 80 youth attend the daily oratory activities, including sports programming.
Six students who attend Don Bosco Technical Institute in Makati City, Philippines, were supported with their education thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. Five of the students are in the automotive program while the sixth student is taking the fitter machinist course. The students have completed their coursework and advanced to hands-on training with their graduation in September 2023.
Don Bosco Technical Institute was established in 1971 to provide poor and underprivileged youth with the skills training to find and retain employment. Today, the institute teaches close to 800 students in courses including automotive, machine shop, electrical and electronics, and printing.
The institute has also developed long-term partnerships with organizations that help ensure students are able to access on-the-job training and find employment once they graduate. Partnerships have been developed with Ford and Porsche, among others.
Photo courtesy of Salesian Missions (contact for usage permissions)
*Any goods, services or funds provided by Salesian Missions to programs located in this country were administered in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control.