INT’L DAY OF HAPPINESS: Salesian Missions highlights educational programs that lead to youth happiness

Salesian missionaries around the globe focus on empowering youth.

NEW ROCHELLE, NY (March 20, 2024) Top of Form Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and countries around the globe in celebrating International Day of Happiness, which falls each year on March 20. In 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution that recognized happiness as a “fundamental human goal” and called for “a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes the happiness and well-being of all people.”

The day is coordinated by Action for Happiness, a nonprofit movement of more than 623,000 members from 193 countries, and is supported by a partnership of like-minded organizations. It was founded as a way to inspire, mobilize and advance the global happiness movement. In 2015, the U.N. launched the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that seek to end poverty, reduce inequality and protect the planet — three key aspects that lead to well-being and happiness.

“Salesian missionaries around the globe focus on empowering youth through education so they can live a more fulfilled and happier life,” said Father Michael Conway, director of Salesian Missions. “Salesians know that when youth can access education, they are able to live out their dreams, build a safe net of peers and trusting adults, and plan for their futures. Advanced skills training through Salesian vocational and technical schools enables youth to become self-sufficient and in control of their destinies, leading to healthy and happier outcomes.”

In celebration of International Day of Happiness 2024, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight Salesian programs that educate and empower youth.


Students in a Salesian school in Myanmar* have laptop computers thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. Donor funding was utilized to purchase 25 laptops to help the students with their education and for them to learn basic computer skills. The school set up internet and the electrical wiring for a new computer room for the 300 students as well as hired skilled staff to teach the course. The donation was sent in 2022.

Father Khun Myat Victor, provincial economer in Myanmar, said, “We have just set up the computer room and the first group of young people have begun their lessons on basic computer skills.”

Myanmar has suffered political violence and instability since the military coup took over power in February 2021. There has been ongoing violence and chaos, and schools have been shut because of this and the COVID-19 pandemic. Salesians are opening their schools to enable youth to get back to their education, which they have been without for two years. Classes focus on English, computers and math.


Salesian missionaries provide programs and support for youth and their families in Huancayo, Peru, which is located in the Andes Mountain range. Salesians have been in the city for more than 100 years educating youth and working to meet the community’s needs. One of the cornerstones of the Salesian presence in the area is the Salesian Youth Center.

When the center first started, it was only a courtyard where youth met, engaged with their peers and prayed. Over time, new buildings have been erected and the services expanded to better meet the educational needs of youth.

Today, youth from 13-30 years old come to the center to take a range of educational courses. Nearly all of them come from families with few financial resources. Most have complex family problems and the center is a second home for them. For a few, it’s the only place they feel cared for and safe. They can study, read, use the computer, play, and attend singing, music and theater workshops.


The Filippo Smaldone Institute, located in Nyamirambo, a suburb of Kigali, Rwanda, is run by the Salesian Sisters of the Sacred Heart. The institute provides primary and secondary school, as well as vocational courses to prepare students for the workforce. The institute also has special courses for students with vision and hearing disabilities, according to a recent article in Global Sisters Report.

The Salesian Sisters of the Sacred Heart congregation was founded in 1885 by St. Filippo Smaldone, who is known as the apostle of the deaf. According to the article, since 1987, the Salesian sisters have focused their work to assist those in danger of social exclusion, including students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The institute educates more than 400 students, including 207 children with hearing loss or deafness and more than 200 without a disability. According to the article, Salesian Sister Therese Akayezu, head teacher at the Filippo Smaldone Institute, noted that by attending classes and special programs with dedicated teachers, deaf or hard of hearing children can learn skills to master a profession.


Salesian missionaries in Makululu, within the city of Kabwe, Zambia, reach out and assist vulnerable street children through a project started in 2016. Makululu is a disadvantaged area, characterized by lack of employment, high mortality because of HIV/AIDS infections, a high percentage of separated families, heavy alcohol abuse and extreme poverty. As a result of these issues, many children and older youth are forced to live on the streets.

To provide support, Salesians started a community school for street children and school dropouts. Over the years, Salesians increased their support by adding new educational activities and developing new infrastructure, including a specific center for street children and children at risk.

The center offers shelter, rehabilitation and reintegrating programs for 92 boys, ages 7-14. The process of rehabilitation and reintegration depends on the situation of each child and the condition of the parents or guardians. Some of the children can be reintegrated with their families after a few months and continue education at the Salesian school or another school. Others may leave the center to start independent life.

*Any goods, services, or funds provided by Salesian Missions to programs located in these countries were administered in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control.


About Salesian Missions USA

Salesian Missions is headquartered in New Rochelle, NY, and is part of the Don Bosco Network—a worldwide federation of Salesian NGOs. The mission of the U.S.-based nonprofit Catholic organization is to raise funds for international programs that serve youth and families in poor communities around the globe. The Salesian missionaries are made up of priests, brothers and sisters, as well as laypeople—all dedicated to caring for poor children throughout the world in more than 130 countries and helping young people become self-sufficient by learning a trade that will help them gain employment. To date, more than 3 million youth have received services funded by Salesian Missions. These services and programs are provided to children regardless of race or religion. For more information, go to


Laura Perillo
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