Salesians’ Development Entity Highlights its COVID-19 Interventions in Africa

Map showing Salesian Missionary presence across the globe.

The leadership of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) has, in a report shared with ACI Africa, provided an overview of some of COVID-19 interventions undertaken in various parts of the world, including Africa.

The Tuesday, September 8 report highlights interventions undertaken in the African nations of Burundi, Namibia, Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, South Sudan and Zambia.

“The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has impacted countries around the globe and left people - particularly migrant workers - stranded, impacted livelihoods and pushed people further into poverty,” Salesian Missions officials say in the September 8 report.

They add, “Homeless children who beg on the streets to earn money for a small amount of food to eat are even more at risk. Some countries have limited access to medical care so prevention is even more critical.”

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the officials say, SDB members “have been responding with food, hygiene supplies, medical care and awareness about the virus and prevention strategies.”

The U.S.-based Salesian organization has, through its teams, “answered the call to ensure this critical aid reaches those most in need.”

In the East-Central African nation of Burundi, the leadership of Salesian Missions has, through Salesian Rukago Parish in the Diocese of Ngozi, facilitated the provision of community prevention measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Through the project, which has benefited 65,000 people in the parish and local community, the leadership of Salesian Missions facilitated the provision of hand-washing stations in eight churches, 15 schools and the Don Bosco Oratory, the leadership has indicated in the report.

“Installing hand-washing stations in front of churches, offices, schools and playgrounds is an effective means of fighting the coronavirus pandemic while giving the local population the hope of living,” the bursar of the Salesian Community in Rukago, Fr. Raphael Katanga has been quoted as saying in the September 8 report.

In Namibia, the New York-based agency has provided financial support to SDB members ministering at Don Bosco Youth Center in the Apostolic Vicariate of Rundu to continue with a feeding program for vulnerable children and youth who have dropped out of school.

With nutritional support, the Salesian Missions leadership reports that the homeless children and youths sheltered at the Center are able to stay indoors thus reducing the risk of contracting COVID-19.

In Malawi, struggling families whose members are “being pushed further into poverty by the pandemic are receiving nutritional support,” the leadership of the agency says in the September 8 report shared with ACI Africa.

Through a subsidy from Salesian Missions, SDB Missionaries ministering at St. Don Bosco Parish in the Archdiocese of Lilongwe have been able to buy maize for 382 needy families.

In Southern Africa, the agency’s leadership has facilitated Salesian Missionaries and Salesian Planning and Development Office in Johannesburg to distribute food packages to families and youths in need in South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland.

The development agency has also facilitated SDB members ministering in the world’s youngest nation, South Sudan, to provide food rations to 275 families at Don Bosco Gumbo camp, which is home to the 9,742 internally displaced persons (IDPs).

The Juba-based Salesian Missionaries were able to distribute plastic roofing sheets, blankets, floor mats, soap and sanitary plastic jugs to 275 of the most vulnerable households thanks to funding from Salesian Missions.

In May, Salesian Missions partnered with Feed My Starving Children to realize the food shipment for vulnerable children in Zambia, officials of the Salesian agency have reported.

With the shipment, orphaned and blind children as well as other needy people received food through Mary Help of Christians Center in the Archdiocese of Kasama.

“Salesian missionaries live in the communities in which they work so they are well-positioned to understand the local needs and come up with solutions to address them,” the Director of Salesian Missions, Fr. Gus Baek has been quoted as saying in the September 8 report.

He adds, “These activities help respond to the local need and help families who have been pushed even further into poverty.”

As Salesians respond to “new needs” brought about by COVID-19, the leadership of the SDB development agency says that Salesian missionaries “are still working to meet their core mission of providing programs and services children and families need to break the cycle of poverty for good.”

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ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
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