Salesian missionaries ensure those in need have access to programs and services.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (FOR RELEASE Oct. 17, 2023) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and countries around the globe in honoring the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty held on Oct. 17 each year. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty and the 35th anniversary of the World Day to Overcome Extreme Poverty.
Whether it’s building wells in communities without water, feeding starving children or providing medical care, Salesian missionaries are ensuring those in need have access to programs and services. Working in more than 5,500 Salesian educational institutions and youth centers around the globe, missionaries also educate children in some of the poorest places on the planet.
“Education is a primary pathway out of poverty,” said Father Timothy Ploch, interim director of Salesian Missions. “Salesian educational programs provide youth the opportunity to gain an education and the skills for later employment. This enables them to earn a living and become self-sufficient. Programs also go beyond traditional education and help to support youth with basic needs, like offering feeding programs at school, so that they can do the hard work of focusing on their studies.”
In honor of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight initiatives that help to break the cycle of poverty for youth and their families.
Close to 800 youth at 30 tuition (study) centers in India have been supported thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. The centers provide school support for poor and disadvantaged students.
Salesians report that nearly 250 million students were affected due to school closures at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns. The pandemic posed several challenges in public and private schools including the expected rise in dropouts, learning losses, and an increase in the digital divide. Furthermore, nearly 147 million children missed more than half of their in-person schooling two years into the pandemic, with more than 27 million of them having missed at least three-quarters of in-person schooling. This amounts to 2 trillion hours of lost in-person learning globally.
Knowing how much help youth needed, Tiruchy Don Bosco started tuition centers in Alangulam, Keela Eral, Dindigul, Kazhiyappanallur, Yercaud and Varadarajanpet to enable children to access school support. At the centers, students are encouraged to study, improve their reading, writing, and speaking skills, and engage in recreational activities.
Salesian missionaries were able to provide support for 20 families in the Ivato district of Madagascar thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. With the funding, Salesians purchased rice, pulses, sugar and more to meet the daily food needs of the families, along with soap and candles. Salesians also taught the families about the importance of taking care of their bodies and health, with a focus on personal hygiene and nutrition. In addition, Salesians provided psychological support to help families overcome the difficulties they encounter in their daily lives.
One Salesian missionary said, “This project is helping people in need by providing them with basic necessities, hygiene supplies and medicines to improve their lives. We are convinced that these activities have helped to improve their health and general well-being. We hope that this project can be continued in the future to help more people in need.”
Salesian missionaries have been living and working in Madagascar since 1981. Today, they have 11 centers and work in several locations, including the Don Bosco House in Ivato in the outskirts of the capital of Antananarivo.
People in Salesian communities and people who are internally displaced in Myanmar* received medication and other health support thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. While initially wanting to set up a clinic, Salesians had to shift how they provided health services in a country that has been experiencing political turmoil since a military coup in February 2021.
Doctors were unable to come to a Salesian clinic and the need was far reaching outside of Salesian communities. As a result, Salesians used donor funding to send medicines to people most in need. If medicine couldn’t reach them, Salesians sent funding so that items could be purchased locally to address the overwhelming need.
Father Khun Myat Victor, provincial economer in Myanmar, said, “I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for the financial support donors have provided for the poor people who are staying in our communities and in refugee camps in different parts of our country. With their generous support, we provided health support for 500 people.”
Salesian missionaries in Lilongwe, Zambia, had the funding they needed to support day-to-day living thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. Donor funding was used to provide food, help maintain the house and pay for utilities, while also supporting the repair of a damaged borehole that provides clean water to the community.
Father Joseph Czerwinski, superior of the community, said, “The Salesian community includes a technical school and the pre-novitiate house, where three pre-novitiates are preparing for the next phase of Salesian training. There are 25 people who live in the community and we really appreciate the donor support we received from Salesian Missions.”
Salesian missionaries came to Lilongwe in 1995 and began to work in the densely populated part of Lilongwe called Area 23. In 1996, the Don Bosco Parish was officially opened by the Archbishop of Lilongwe. Today, the parish serves 16,000 to 18,000 Christians.
In 2000, the Don Bosco Technical School started providing technical instruction to 150 youth. Students could take courses in auto mechanics, carpentry, accounting and tailoring. Today, the school has developed into a large technical college with more than 1,000 students in more than 12 departments. It is one of the biggest Salesian schools in southern Africa.