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Salesians in South Africa Empowering Poor, Vulnerable Youth in Commercial Fish Farming

Graduates of the Wave of Change Project at their Graduation/ Credit: salesianyouth.org

Members of the Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) ministering in South Africa are empowering young people in the city of Cape Town with skills to undertake commercial fish farming.

Supported by the U.S.-based development arm of SDB, Salesian Missions, the Salesian Institute Youth Projects in South Africa's second main economic offers training to hundreds of homeless, unemployed and vulnerable young people in the country through the Waves of Change initiative.

“The Waves of Change project is able to offer high-quality employees to the fishing industry while providing its students meaningful employment,” the Director of Salesian Missions, Fr. Gus Baek, has been quoted as saying in a Tuesday, April 27 report.  

Fr. Baek adds, “The fishing industry offers poor and at-risk youth the opportunity to gain an education in a field they might not otherwise have access to.”

Currently, the Waves of Change project, which offers a compulsory five-day life skills course is training 200 at-risk youth and young adults between the ages of 18 and 35, the leadership of the Salesian Institute Youth Projects has said in the report. 

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“Students who successfully complete the course are awarded financial assistance toward obtaining the required certification for work in the fishing industry through the South African Maritime Safety Authority,” the SDB officials working at the Institute say. 

The free training is offered by the Pulse College, the Academy of Maritime Medicine, and the Southern Africa Pty Ltd (STC Table Bay) who have established partnerships with members of SDB.

The Salesian Missionaries have also nurtured partnerships with groups that include Premier Fishing, the Oceana Group, and Sea Harvest, which “hire graduates of the project.”

Besides offering training in fish farming, the members of SDB “provide shelter, education and workforce development services in an effort to meet the basic needs of the youth they serve while helping them break the cycle of poverty” at the 111-year-old Salesian Institute Youth Projects.

“The Salesian Institute Youth Projects provides five main projects that help youth in the region. There is an outreach program, a hostel for homeless youth, a learn-to-live education program and two workforce development programs,” say the officials of the Cape Town-based institution.

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They add that the projects running in the technical institute “are managed by a diverse group of individuals, some of whom live on the premises to support youth in the hostel and outreach programs.”

Making reference to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), SDB officials say, “Poverty is extensive in South Africa with more than half the population and more than 63 percent of children living below the poverty line. A significant percentage of the population struggles to survive on less than $1 a day.”

They add that South Africa is “plagued by high crime rates and violence against women and girls and has been the hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS crisis in the world.”

“There is an urgent need for education to help prevent the spread of the deadly virus and to help lift youth out of poverty,” says the leadership of the Salesian Institute Youth Projects.