ZAMBIA: Project provides support, family reunification
Don Bosco Makululu Center carries out activities for most vulnerable children
(MissionNewswire) Don Bosco Makululu Center, located near the town of Kabwe, Zambia, provides for youth whose families cannot meet their educational and basic needs because of extreme poverty. Alcohol abuse, prostitution and high mortality caused by diseases such as HIV/AIDS are the most widespread problems affecting this region. These problems are often why youth run away from their families or are abandoned on the streets.
In 2022, the Salesian Missions Office in Turin, Italy, launched a project to provide food, hospitality, medical care and psychological support to an additional 90 children at the Don Bosco Center. They attended literacy and educational training, and, when conditions allowed, they were placed on a family reunification path.
With the added support, Salesians were also able to cover the expenses of their staff including a social worker, two janitors, an outreach worker, a cook and a driver who took care of all of the supplies.
In addition to providing for youth at the center, Salesians provide outreach twice a week to make initial contact with youth living on the streets. Salesians try to educate youth about the dangers they are facing and convince them to seek shelter at the center. Once at the center, Salesians can assess their situation and provide services including family reunification.
According to the Salesians, about 50 children are sleeping on the streets of Kabwe, and nearly 100 regularly visit the town to beg and perform small jobs such as collecting and reselling bottles and trading plastic or food products.
“The children who have successfully completed the family reunification process fall into a further path,” said Father Michael Wzietek, a Polish Salesian missionary and director and economer of the Makululu Salesian community. “They are visited regularly, and during this period we provide the parents with a kind of counseling to make them aware of the importance of parenting and the dangers of children living on the streets. We do everything to prevent the child from leaving the family and home again.”
Family reintegration comes with many challenges. Some families do not accept their children while other children are unable to be with their parents for reasons such as alcohol abuse or lack of attention.
Fr. Wzietek added, “We will continue to carry out the many activities to support the most vulnerable children, and we are happy with the results so far. Thank you to everyone who has supported us.”
Poverty is widespread in Zambia with 64% of the total population living below the poverty line. For those living in rural areas, the poverty rate rises to 80%, 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 also taken a devastating toll on Zambia’s children. There are 1.2 million children classified as orphaned and vulnerable by UNICEF, and these children struggle to find education, basic services and hope for their future.
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Salesian Missions – Zambia
UNICEF – Zambia