Salesians in Madagascar Offering “second chance” to Homeless Youths Living in “prisons”

Some of the homeless youths in prison that Salesian MIssionaries are supporting in Madagascar

Members of the Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) ministering in the Indian Ocean Island nation of Madagascar are offering a “second chance” to homeless youths living in prisons.

In a Wednesday, February 3 report obtained by ACI Africa, officials of SDB say that they are ministering among 100 youths at the invitation of prison authorities in Anjanamasina, a suburb within the Archdiocese of Antananarivo.

The youths were sent to Madagascar’s re-education centers for rehabilitation, but ended up living in a prison-like environment where they are mixed with prisoners, SDB officials add in the report.

“Youth who are in these facilities because they were living on the street deserve a second chance at life,” Fr. Gus Baek, the Director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of SDB has been quoted as saying.

He adds, “Salesians help (the) youth with their spiritual growth, social support and provide hope for a better future.”


With the support of Don Bosco Mission in Turin in Italy, SDB Missionaries in Madagascar distribute meals and provide musical, theatrical and sporting activities to the youths every Sunday and on midweek Catholic Feast Days, officials of the Religious Institute note.

The Salesians “also provide spiritual services with the celebration of Mass and the sacraments, catechism, and special religious and educational projects,” SDB officials say in the February 3 report and adding that the “missionaries help youth feel loved and important to someone, not a burden to be cast aside.”

Ranked as one of the poorest countries in the world, about 92 percent of the 26 million people in Madagascar live below the poverty line, according to UNICEF.

In the February 3 report by Mission Newswire, the information service of Salesian Missions, the leadership of SDB attributes the rising number of homeless youths in Madagascar to poverty and a lack of education.

“Many families cannot afford to care for their children, and education is seen as an afterthought to providing for basic needs,” the officials of the St. John Bosco-founded Religious Institute note in the report.

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To help the youth break the cycle of poverty and hopelessness, Salesian missionaries in the Indian Ocean Island nation “operate elementary, middle and high schools throughout the country,” SDB officials say.

“The focus of the schools is on providing educational opportunities, increasing literacy and laying a foundation for education well past the compulsory education in the country,” they add 

For SDB members in Madagascar, “Access to education and training in social and life skills encourages graduates to find livable wage employment, breaking the cycle of poverty.”