Salesians in DR Congo Highlight Success Story of Street Youths Reunification Program

17-year-old Jean-Claude Michaël Imani, a former street youth now reunited with his family thanks to the Salesians at Don Bosco Centre, Bukavu

Members of the Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) ministering in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have, in a report, highlighted a success story of their street youths reunification program.

In the Tuesday, January 26 report obtained by ACI Africa, the leadership of SDB recount the story of 17-year-old Jean-Claude Michaël Imani, who, they say, has had a second chance at life thanks to the Salesians ministering at the Don Bosco Center in the Archdiocese of Bukavu in Eastern DRC.

“Imani had a rough childhood. His mother died when he was two months old and his father was unable to care for him,” SDB officials say in the report published by Mission Newswire, the official news service of the Salesian Missions.

In the report, Imani eventually went to live with his aunt. One day, when he left to visit his father, he got lost along the way, a predicament that forced the eight-year-old lad to live on the streets alone for the next seven years.

On the streets, Imani would be taken to various shelters for street children for rehabilitation unsuccessfully, as he would always find his way back to the streets, a situation the SDB officials say changed in April 2019 when he arrived at the Don Bosco Centre in Bukavu.


“After a period of adaptation, he was enrolled in the Nyota Center in level two of the school remedial program for the 2019-2020 school term,” the officials the 161-year-old Religious Institute say in the January 26 report published by Mission Newswire of the Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the SDB.

As Imani was busy undertaking the remedial program, the Salesian Missionaries were busy tracking down his father.

They eventually found him. Still, he did not have the means to bring up his son, the SDB official note and add that Imani was eventually welcomed into “a loving and happy home” by his cousin, who he had always considered a big brother.

To help him with adapting to his new life in a family, SDB members provided Imani with a reunion kit including a bag of clothes, hygiene kits, sheets, a blanket, and a mattress and bed, a standard procedure they say they undertake for all the youths reintegrated into their families.

“At the end of the school term, Imani had an 85 percent grade point average and continued on to the third level of education in Goma,” SDB officials say in the January 26 report and note that Imani’s reunion is “one of many family reunifications that Don Bosco Center has completed.”

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The Don Bosco Centre is situated near a main town square and prison, which the SDB leadership says is “an ideal location for missionaries to meet the many street children who spend time in the square washing cars, carrying luggage and parcels, stealing and begging.”

Soon after establishing the Center, the missionaries opened a school within the premises, which serves the local population.

“Word has spread among the local population that Salesian missionaries are there to help. While they can’t meet every request, missionaries are focused on providing for the urgent needs of the community,” the leadership of the Italy-headquartered Religious Institute says.

“Since our arrival in Bukavu, the door of the Don Bosco Center is always open. We try to listen to those who come from outside with their problems,” the Director of the Center, Fr. Piero Gavioli has been quoted as saying in the January 26 report.

He adds, “Our mission here is to welcome the children in the streets and offer them free vocational training. Moreover, with our resources, we help families to pay the school fees of at least one of their children.”


SDB members have been ministering in DRC for more than a century, “ensuring that the most vulnerable children are not forgotten.”

“Salesian primary and secondary schools and programs lay the foundation for early learning while Salesian trade, vocational and agricultural programs offer many youths the opportunity for a stable and productive future,” SDB leadership says in the January 26 report obtained by ACI Africa.