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Salesian Missionaries in Egypt Empowering Refugees Through Vocational Training

Salesian missionaries are able to offer training to assist refugees in gaining the skills needed for employment or self-employment in Egypt. Credit: Salesian Missions

Members of the Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) ministering in Egypt are empowering refugees seeking shelter in the Northern African country with technical skills that can significantly enhance the refugees’ empowerment.

Funded by the United States (U.S) Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), the Salesian Technical and Vocational Training Centre in the capital of Egypt, Cairo, has supported at least 3,000 refugees from Syria, Sub-Saharan Africa and vulnerable Egyptians, SDB members have reported.

In the report published on World Refugee Day marked on Sunday, June 20, SDB leadership says the institution “provides life skills training, health awareness, entrepreneurship literacy workshops, job panels, seed grants, and violence prevention training to help refugees build the skills needed to succeed in the workplace and adjust in their new urban environments.”

“One of the great successes of the project is the addition of social services, including transportation vouchers for travel to and from courses, fully funded for participants,” Salesian officials say, adding that trainees are also given vouchers to purchase groceries and other basic needs for their livelihood. 

The vouchers help in ensuring that nutritional needs of the trainees are met, they say, adding that the trainees at the Cairo-based Salesian centre also receive “a primary care checkup and eye exam with a doctor who comes to the school.”

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“Some medicine prescriptions are included as referrals for secondary care as needed,” the SDB officials say in the report obtained by ACI Africa.

Rimonda Nadi, a former student at the vocational training centre says that she was equipped with skills to start her own business after her course in sewing. 

“After the course, I started to buy fabrics and make baby clothes. Then I started to put my products in different clothes shops for sale,” Nadi has been quoted as saying.  

She adds that the ability to start her business “brought me extreme happiness and pride because I can finally depend on myself and start to work.”

Last year, 639 refugees were registered for technical and vocational courses at the Salessian institution, SDB leadership says in the June 20 report. 

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Meanwhile, SDB members in Uganda have, through their Institute’s U.S.-based development arm, Salesian Missions, provided food to at least 800 refugees at the Don Bosco Palabek Refugee Resettlement Camp in the East African nation.  

The Resettlement Camp that is home to about 56,000 refugees and asylum seekers was established in 2016. 

In the report, however, SDB members ministering at the Camp express concern that the distribution of food has become limited since the outbreak of COVID-19. 

“Even before COVID-19, living conditions in Palabek were not easy. Food distribution was scarce and there were difficulties in accessing drinking water,” they say, adding, “With the arrival of the pandemic, everything has become even more complicated.”

SDB members at the camp explain, “The amount of food delivered to refugees once a month has been reduced by 30 percent, and classes and activities were suspended.”

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In a bid to counter food shortage at the camp, Salesians have facilitated the cultivation of “cereals, vegetables, and if possible, some cash crops such as sim sim, groundnuts and sunflower” 

“The goals are to promote kitchen gardens of vegetables and fruits, hire land from the local Ugandans, and create agreements to work together with the host community,” they say, adding that they have provided hundreds of kilos of maize, beans, sim sim, groundnuts, assorted vegetables and cassava cuttings to the communities.