ZAMBIA: Salesian Nursery School Provides Children a Chance to Prepare for Primary Schooling
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries in Makululu, a shantytown just outside the city of Kabwe, the capital of the Zambian Central Province, provide education and social development services for poor youth in the region. The area, heavily affected the HIV/AIDS, has lost many of the communities elders to the disease leaving nearly 25 percent of the town’s children orphaned.
Many of the local families rely on basic trades to earn a meager living. They set up stalls with vegetables, fish, fruit, stone slabs, furniture, and products from China. Many try to make enough to feed their families. But there is great poverty in this community with many of the residents having no electricity, enough food to eat or enough money to buy proper clothing. The area is also heavily polluted from the remnants of lead and cadmium that were once mined in the region. The air pollution is four times higher than allowed levels.
One of the Salesian programs in Makululu is a nursery school, which prepares the children for primary school. Volunteers with the Salesian-run Don Bosco International Volunteer Service for Development (VIS) help to operate the school teaching and providing assistance to the young students.
“Makululu is my mission, and I am in charge of the nursery school,” says Sylwia Prządka a volunteer with VIS. “I speak and play with the children during my walks in the district. All the children come to the square close to the church. They greet me with a big smile. I try to stay with them. After a few hours we play in the dust, and then I too am dirty like the majority of the children after hours of play.”
Salesian programs in more than 130 countries around the globe provide education in order to break the cycle of poverty while giving the most vulnerable youth a sense of personal dignity and self-worth. There are 3,200 Salesian schools around the globe providing education to young students to prepare them for advanced technical and vocation studies. In addition, more than 850 Salesian vocational, technical, professional and agricultural schools give practical skills to youth to create productive and contributing adults in their communities.
“Access to quality education provides a stepping stone out of poverty for poor youth,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “This nursery school will allow children to easily transition to the Salesian primary school and then later into continued education in the secondary school where students can begin to focus on finding a career path and learning the skills needed to lead a productive life.”
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 to help meet their basic needs.
UNICEF – Zambia
Salesian Missions – Zambia