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Salesians Facilitating Scholarships, Clean Water Access for Students in Cameroon, Malawi

Students of the Don Bosco High School in Nkhotakota, Malawi get good drinking water thanks to a new borehole funded by the Salesian Missions through the ‘Clean Water Initiative’.

Members of the Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) are facilitating education scholarships and clean water access to needy students in Cameroon and Malawi.

In a report shared with ACI Africa, Thursday, March 18, officials of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of SDB that solicits the funds for the initiatives in the African countries, say that SDB members have reached out to needy youths who were unable to finish their studies for lack of school fees.

In Cameroon, youths whose families’ economic status has been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic have benefitted from the scholarships offered through SDB members ministering in the Mimboman region within the country’s Yaoundé Archdiocese, the leadership of the Salesian agency says in the report.

“The pandemic created an economic crisis in Cameroon. The country has had large losses as a result of the closure of exports. Service providers, such as taxi drivers, craftsmen and traders, have been out of work,” Salesian Missions officials have reported.

The Central African nation “is also challenged by the presence of Islamist terrorist groups like Boko Haram in the North, a group of secessionist armies from the Northwest and Central African refugees from the East,” they add, noting that the challenges “affect youth who are trying to study and gain an education.”

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“The funding helped youth finish the school year and either graduate and find employment or advance to their next year of schooling,” officials of the New York-based agency say in the report.

The leadership of Salesian Missions has also availed funds to SDB members in the Archdiocese of Yaoundé towards COVID-19 prevention.

“Some of the funding went toward buying cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer for staff and students,” officials of the Salesian entity say in their March 18 report.

They note that the materials have benefited more than 4,000 people, including students and teachers of Don Bosco College and the Vocational Training Center, parishioners of Mary Help of Christians Parish as well as young people at a local youth center, among others.

“The local Salesian church was also regularly disinfected by a young man who works for a cleaning service at Yaoundé City Hall. He taught Salesian staff how to disinfect properly and helped purchase cleaning supplies at an affordable price,” the leadership of Salesian Missions says.

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Funds from the Salesian entity have also enabled SDB members in the Central African nation to support four people “who were in dire need of medical attention” and who “would not have survived” without the facilitation of the Salesian missionaries.

“One woman was rushed into surgery with appendicitis, another needed life-saving medical care for kidney issues and two others were dealing with complications from hepatitis,” Salesian officials recount.

“Salesian missionaries from around the globe have sprung to action and have been working tirelessly for those in need,” the Director of Salesian Missions. Fr. Gus Baek has been quoted as saying in the March 18 report.

Besides direct support to families in need, “Salesian centers and institutions have also supported their communities,” Fr. Baek adds and expresses his appreciation for the “donors who have helped Salesians in Cameroon with their efforts to mitigate the challenges brought on by the pandemic.”

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In the Southeastern African nation of Malawi, SDB members are facilitating the digging of a second borehole at Don Bosco High School in Nkhotakota District, within the Catholic Archdiocese of Lilongwe.

With funding from Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative,” SDB members ministering at the Lilongwe-based school have managed to install a water pump and solar panels, as well as construct a water tank, a separate report shared with ACI Africa, March 18 indicates.

The water facilities have ensured that the 378 students and 20 teachers at the school, which SDB members initiated as a “direct response to the need for education for youth in the southwestern part of Nkhotakota,” have access to clean drinking water, SDB officials say.

“The biggest challenge the school faced was the chronic lack of regular water supply for both our boarding and day students,” the Rector of the Salesian community in Nkhotakota, Fr. Joseph Czerwinski has been quoted as saying in the report.

Though the school is near a large lake and is connected to the city’s water system, Fr. Czerwinski says, “There were still acute water shortages every day. The town supply is very erratic and unreliable. This caused problems for our students including a lack of proper hygiene, a health hazard, and no water for cooking and drinking.”

“On behalf of the students from Don Bosco High School and the Salesian community, I would like to thank the donors who have contributed toward this project. Without their help we would not be able to drill the borehole,” the Rector says in the report.

Thanks to the funding, “Now students and the community have a sufficient amount of water. This directly positively impacts their educational environment,” Fr. Czerwinski adds in the March 18 report shared with ACI Africa.