Salesians Address Inequality in West Africa, Facilitate Formal Education in Senegal, Mali

A section of beneficiaries of Center Kër Don Bosco, an initiative of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) in Senegal that aims to empower girls and women through education/ Credit: Salesian Missions

On the occasion of the annual World Day against Trafficking in Persons marked July 30, members of the Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) have highlighted their initiatives in addressing the challenge of inequality in West Africa, a factor that contributes to human trafficking.

Marked under the theme, “Victims’ voices lead the way”, this year’s event seeks, according to the United Nations, to highlight “the importance of listening to and learning from survivors of human trafficking.”

In a report shared with ACI Africa ahead of this year’s event, SDB members highlight the construction of “Center Kër Don Bosco” in Senegal and “St. John Bosco secondary school” in Mali.

Making reference to the initiative in Senegal, SDB members report, “Inequalities between men and women exist in the country with many women unable to access education or equal opportunities in the labor market. Women only represent 13 percent of all those employed.”


They highlight the link between lack of formal education and joblessness as two challenges that have affected the people of God in Senegal over the years saying, “Contributing to the high rate of unemployment is a high rate of illiteracy among youth in rural areas, especially women and girls.”

“To address these challenges, Salesian missionaries opened Center Kër Don Bosco in January 2015 and provide education, vocational training and apprenticeship opportunities to disadvantaged youth and women,” they report of the project that was facilitated by Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of SDB.

The initiative, which “focused specifically on helping women gain opportunities in the workforce,” SDB members say, offers “two literacy classes as well as a safe space for studying.”

The Salesians’ intervention in Senegal is essential because in the West African nation women “are often heads of households but lack the training and confidence to try to enter the workforce or advance into higher paying jobs,” they say in the report.

The goal of Center Kër Don Bosco “is to help women connect with their peers and provide access to employment training to boost confidence and improve employment prospects,” SDB members say, underscoring the value of their initiative in addressing the challenge of inequality and ultimately, prevent human trafficking.

More in Africa

In Mali, Salesian Missionaries report about the recent construction of “St. John Bosco secondary school in Touba, a small town which had no other secondary educational institutions.”

The initiative, they reveal, “was completed with the assistance of the Spanish Salesian organization, Solidaridad Don Bosco, which aims to give youth at risk of social exclusion access to quality education.”

In the area where the school has been constructed, there was not any “educational institutes for older students.”

“The new high school now serves more than 400 youth from 17 villages in the region,” SDB members have reported.


To address the challenge of inequality that goes a long way in preventing human trafficking, Salesian Missionaries in Mali have “a gender awareness development plan.”

The plan, they explain, is to be able “to facilitate girls’ access to education and to foster and welcome their participation in the activities of the local oratory” alongside the secondary school in Touba.

“In addition, the Spanish Salesian Solidaridad Don Bosco developed a project to expand the Salesian educational center in Sikasso,” SDB members report about their empowerment initiative in Mali.

The Sikasso initiative, which the municipalities of Utrera and Pozoblanco in Spain are expected to help realize, is to take 12 months to complete, Salesian Missionaries say.

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When realized, the project is set to “benefit youth in situations of exclusion served by the (Sikasso) center.

“The Salesian center in Sikasso currently has a student body of 430 students learning in 11 classrooms,” SDB members say, and add, “The space is clearly insufficient with respect to the needs of the center.”

“In order to improve the service offered by the center and the quality of education, the new project helped to build a new building that accommodates eight additional classrooms which are fully equipped,” they say in the report shared with ACI Africa.

The Salesian initiative in the Malian town “is also assisting with the recruitment of the necessary teachers,” SDB members say in their report on 2021 World Day against Trafficking in Persons.