On World Day of Poor, Salesians Highlight Social Initiatives for Africa’s Vulnerable Youth

In Sudan, St. Joseph Vocational Training Center offers students the opportunity to have hands-on learning in renewable energy. Credit: Salesian Missions

On the annual event of the World Day of the Poor marked November 13, the leadership of the U.S—based development arm of the Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB), Salesian Missions, has highlighted social initiatives for vulnerable youth across the globe, including Africa.

The day was established by Pope Francis at the end of the Year of Mercy, “so that throughout the world Christian communities can become an ever greater sign of Christ’s charity for the least and those most in need,” the Holy Father wrote in Misericordia et misera.

In a November 13 report, SDB officials say, “Nearly 30,000 Salesian priests, brothers, sisters, and novices are working in more than 130 countries around the globe bringing education, workforce development, and social programs to poor youth and their families.”

They note that Salesian missionaries “work in some of the most challenging circumstances and are among the first to respond during humanitarian crises or natural disasters.”

“While education is the primary goal, Salesians know that youth living in conditions of poverty have many more needs that can be addressed before sitting down and focusing in a classroom,” the Director of Salesian Missions, Fr. Gus Baek, has been quoted as saying in the November 13 report.


Fr. Baek adds, “That’s why Salesian missionaries work to meet basic needs like shelter, food, medical care and clean water while also working to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches those who need it most.”

“Once these most basic needs are met, youth have a better chance at succeeding in school,” he says.

In the Northeast African nation of Sudan, SDB officials say, “Salesian missionaries with St. Joseph Vocational Training Center in Khartoum, Sudan, are offering a solar energy project for the students taking the electricity course.”

They note that “the training is engaging students in hands-on exploration in the field of renewable energy.”

“This project was made possible thanks to Bosco Global and financial support from Magone Foundation and the Provincial Council of Huesca, all in Spain,” officials of the New York-based entity say in the report.

More in Africa

They further say, “During the 2021-2022 academic year, first- and second-year electricity students installed several solar panels in three different buildings on the school grounds.”

“Students had the opportunity to learn the installation process, operation and proper use of the solar panels,” they add.

In the report, a Salesian missionary is quoted as saying, “Power outages of 10 hours a day can occur in Sudan, so solar energy is a key alternative to this problem, as well as making a very positive contribution to the environment. Currently, renewable energy is booming in the country.”

In the East African nation of Uganda, vulnerable minors at the Salesians of Don Bosco – Children And Life Mission (CALM) in Namugongo in Uganda’s Archdiocese of Kampala have received nutritional support from Salesian missionaries in a collaborative initiative.

With funding from the Donald D. Lynch Family Foundation, an organization that gives to Catholic causes to end human suffering, SDB officials have been able to procure “five dairy cows to provide milk for children in their programs.”


“Four of the cows are now pregnant,” SDB officials say.

They note that the “project will be sustainable because the cows will multiply, increasing milk productivity.”

SDB officials say the cows help to prevent “malnutrition among the children who live in the orphanage and attend the primary school at Don Bosco CALM.”

“Most of the children cared for by the Salesians were once living on the street and are HIV positive or in some other vulnerable situation,” they add.

Prior to the donation of the cows, the DD Lynch Family Foundation had provided funding for a modern cowshed so the cows live in good conditions and are cared for by a veterinary doctor and a full-time shepherd, Salesian officials say.

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In his message for this year’s World Day of the Poor, Pope Francis said that no Christian is exempt from helping those with fewer resources than ourselves.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.