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Salesians Facilitating Access to Nutritional Support at Catholic Youth Center in Rwanda

Some youths working in one of the farms belonging to the students at the Don Bosco Gatenga Center in the country’s Archdiocese of Kigali. Credit: Salesian Missions

Members of the Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) in Rwanda are facilitating access to nutritional support for youth and students at the Don Bosco Gatenga Center in the country’s Archdiocese of Kigali.

The initiative is being realized through a partnership with the U.S.-based development arm of SDB, Salesian Missions.

In a Wednesday, August 11 report obtained by ACI Africa, Salesian Missions officials say, “Since its beginning in 1976, Don Bosco Gatenga has welcomed youth and children in need and provided shelter, food and education.”

Officials of the New York-based organization add, “The school helps to prepare youth for the future and teaches them employable skills so that they will be self-sufficient and help support their families and the community.”

The Center has a public chapel, oratory, technical and vocational school, boarding for boys, and a farm, the August 11 report indicates.

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“In addition to students at the technical school, the public chapel welcomes more than 2,000 Christians every Sunday and the oratory has more than 2,000 youth,” SDB members at the Center say about their institution that, they add, “also features a large farm that has 26 hectares of land; ten of those hectares have already been cultivated for farming.”

Food grown at the farm, they further say, “helps to feed the students in the school and the boys who board there.”

While the Don Bosco Center has a number of resources that it uses to provide for the needs of the children and students as well as those in other programs, SDB members at the institution say “nutritional support falls short.”

“Don Bosco Gatenga has seen more and more children who are undernourished and malnourished coming to the center, and the farm crop is not enough to feed them all adequately,” they say, and continue, “The number of students from poor families who want to attend the school to learn employable skills has also increased.”

Against this backdrop, the “Don Bosco Gatenga Center received donor funding from Salesian Missions, to help provide nutritional support for students and youth at the center.”

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With the donor funding provided, SDB members say, “Four hectares of land have been farmed and the vegetables grown there are being provided to the youth at the center. Additional funding for nutritional support is feeding the 210 students at least one meal a day.”

“We are appreciative of the donor funding that has provided initial support for Don Bosco Gatenga and the children at the center,” the Director of Salesian Missions, Fr. Gus Baek, has been quoted as saying in the August 11 report.

Fr. Baek adds, “Funding is needed to buy additional food items to supplement and provide nutritional daily meals to everyone. There is a great need at this center and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made it more challenging.”