Salesians’ Climate Club in Sierra Leone on Environment to Benefit Thousands of Youth

Credit: Salesian Missions

More than 6,000 youth in the local Salesian schools and youth centers in Sierra Leone’s Northern Province are set to benefit from a climate club project that aims to provide environmental education.

Spearheaded by U.S.-based development arm of the Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB), Salesian Missions, the project seeks to start with at least 60 youth and will be facilitated by 10 volunteer teachers from St. Augustine Agricultural secondary school.

According to the Salesian Priest behind the launching of the project in Lungi, a small coastal town in the Port Loko District of the Northern Province of Sierra Leone, the region was chosen because of its vulnerability to climate issues.

“When the world is talking about climate change and environmental impact, it’s not being talked about here,” Fr.  Philip Gboa said, and added, “People throw garbage around and don’t really care about the environment much. They cut down trees for no reason.”

In a Tuesday, February 15 report, Fr. Gboa says that due to the less care given to climate change and the impact of the environment in the region, diseases such as cholera and typhoid are rampant and children are also affected.


He explains, “There are plastic bags littered all over. We have beaches but no one uses them because they are so dirty. As a result, we have diseases like cholera and typhoid, and something needs to change. It’s not just the parents who are impacted, it’s the children too.”

He says that despite cleanup initiatives spearheaded by the government, the environment does not stay clean for a long time and that the initiative seeks to educate children on maintaining long-term impact in the care of the environment.

“It occurred to me that people may litter because they have never been taught to care about the environment. This is the time now to teach our young people,” Fr. Gboa says, and adds, “If we teach them in schools, they will go and teach others as they go to universities or back home with their parents.”

Fr. Gboa further says in reference to the youth, “They will be able to share about the Climate Club, what they are learning and the importance of not destroying the environment. The young people have to be the ambassadors.”

He says that the project is set to run three days a week. It is expected to offer youth educational sessions and activities and they will be given a chance to practice whatever they are taught, the Salesian Priest says, adding that the youth who will manage to become ambassadors will have 50 percent of their school fees paid.

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“There are many intelligent and motivated youth who want to continue their studies after secondary school but who cannot afford to go to university. If they become ambassadors in the Climate Club, we will help them financially to continue their education,” he says.

Fr. Gboa explains in reference to the beneficiaries of the project, “They will never forget the lessons they learned in the club and know that it was the club that helped them be able to continue school. They will also pay that forward by teaching others what they have learned.”

Through Don Bosco Fambul organization, Salesian missionaries have served in Sierra Leone since 2001; they started by working to rehabilitate child soldiers.

Located in the capital city of Freetown, Don Bosco Fambul has become one of the country’s leading child welfare organizations, offering food, clothing, crisis intervention services, shelter, educational opportunities, long-term counseling and family reunification.

According to the February 15 report, accessing education is one of the significant challenges faced by the youth in the West African country.


SDB leadership reports that “with few teachers and many school buildings destroyed in the war, resources are thin.”

“Persistently high illiteracy rates mean that an estimated 70 percent of Sierra Leone’s youth are unemployed or underemployed,” SDB officials say in the February 15 report.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.