ZAMBIA: More than 5,000 Poor Youth and Elderly Benefit from Recent Clothing Donation
(MissionNewswire) Thanks to coordination efforts by Salesian Missions, poor youth and the elderly in Salesian programs in Lusaka, the capital and largest city of Zambia, benefited from a recent clothing donation. Many of the recipients are young people who have been affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the country.
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.
“Salesians in Zambia are responding to children in crisis through education and social programs that provide for their basic needs, eventually helping them to break the cycle of poverty and go on to lead productive lives,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco (which coordinated the delivery and distribution of the donated clothing).
The recent clothing donation benefited more than 5,000 people in need including those at Salesian orphanages, youth centers and schools who received the majority of the clothing. Salesian missionaries have noted that the new clothing has helped many students be more prepared for school while boosting their confidence. In addition to clothing young people, the donation was shared with elderly residents from surrounding villages and missionaries used the donation drop-off as an opportunity to visit those who are unable to leave their homes.
Salesian missionaries operate many programs in Zambia helping to improve the education, health and wellness of poor youth and their families. Several such programs are run through the City of Hope, an organization and school created to serve those living in the most severe poverty. 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 clothing and food help our students be more prepared in the classroom so they are able to focus on their educational pursuits and create a better life for themselves while improving their communities.”
UNICEF – Zambia