Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted 75 years ago.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Dec. 10, 2023) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and the international community in honoring Human Rights Day, celebrated each year on Dec. 10. Human Rights Day commemorates the day in 1948 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted 75 years ago this year and has been translated into more than 500 languages. This milestone document proclaimed the inalienable rights that everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being — regardless of race, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status.
The U.N. noted, “In 2023, we reinvigorate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, showing the ways it meets the needs of our time, and advancing its promise of freedom, equality, and justice for all.”
Through education and social development programming, Salesian missionaries in more than 130 countries around the globe work 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 educating youth on their rights and ensuring access to programs and services they need. Working in more than 5,500 Salesian educational institutions and youth centers around the world, missionaries educate children in some of the poorest places on the planet.
“Among many educational programs for poor youth, Salesians also provide education on human rights which provides vulnerable youth a sense of personal dignity and self-worth,” said Father Timothy Ploch, interim director of Salesian Missions. “At Salesian schools, young children gain an education, learn about their rights and freedoms, and participate in sports and other activities — all in a safe environment that encourages learning and growth.”
In honor of Human Rights Day, Salesian Missions highlights unique programs that are helping poor youth receive an education and find a path out of poverty, bringing them hope for the future.
St. John Paul II School in the community of Maram Khullen, located Manipur, India, has a new toilet complex thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. The project is part of the Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative.” The school provides education to 170 students, ages 4-13, with the support of 10 staff members.
The funding was utilized for construction of the entire complex from the foundation to the ceiling and walls. Funding was also used to tile the floor, paint the entire building, and install the toilets and partition them. Separate areas of the building were provided for both boys and girls.
Houdina, a girl in class 7, expressed her gratitude for the new toilet complex. “I am very happy now. I don’t feel embarrassed anymore. I never went during school recess to the toilet, but used to go during class time to avoid the gaze of the boys.”
Nearly 1,400 people in Peru benefited from a donation from ASAP – Tools for Empowerment thanks to a partnership with Salesian Missions. Don Bosco Foundation received the donation and distributed it to seven Salesian organizations in 2022. Salesian organizations that received the donation include Bosconia Technical Education Center, Salesians in Piura, Salesian Polytechnic Education Center and Salesians in Monte Salvado, among others.
The donated tools and equipment have been used mostly by students in technical training centers. Students have access to them during the practical part of their training in courses focused on carpentry, automotive mechanics, electricity, industrial pattern making (textiles), metalworking and agriculture. The tools are also used for maintenance and gardening, and in the warehouse.
Students who have completed their training have also benefited from basic tool kits including hammers, pliers, screwdrivers and saws. Young Venezuelan migrants housed in the Magdalena Shelter benefited from baseball equipment for their recreational activities.
Students attending Don Bosco Technical School in Gatenga, Rwanda, received nutritional support thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. The support, which covered from January to May 2023, provided for the purchase of food for breakfast, lunch and dinner at the school.
The funding ensured proper nutrition so students could focus on their studies and had the motivation to learn. Often, the meals students receive at the school are the only meals they have in a day. As a result of this donation, the learning environment improved, and students and staff were more focused on their tasks. The school also has an organic farm. During the first part of 2023, the number of vegetables planted in the garden increased due to more space that became available for the farm.
A Salesian missionary at the school said, “Don Bosco Gatenga school staff and the whole Salesian community, including students and their families, are grateful and happy for the donor support and thinking of the youth in need here. We extend our thanks to all the donors.”
St. Augustine Agricultural Junior Secondary School, located in Lungi, Sierra Leone, received support from donor funding from Salesian Missions. The school, which was established in 1984, has 14 classrooms, a computer lab, an infirmary/clinic and an administrative building.
The school provides education to marginalized students in the region. It currently has 700 students, 34 teachers and four auxiliary staff, including a nurse. Given the economic condition of the country and the challenges faced by students, the school recently reintroduced its feeding program. A portion of the donor funding went to support this program and ensure students in need have access to healthy nutrition through school lunch.
In addition, funding provided for school uniforms and to support salaries for the auxiliary staff. Maintenance and repairs of the school buildings, assembly and sport grounds, school fence, bathrooms and canteen also took place with the funding.
At the school, Salesian sports programming provides much-needed recreation and life skills for the students. Funding provided for table tennis equipment, balls, and jerseys for soccer, basketball and volleyball.