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On Human Rights Day, Salesians Highlight Programs Fostering Insight into Youth Rights

Credit: Salesian Missions

On the annual Human Rights Day marked December 10, members of the Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) have highlighted their programs with young people across the world, including Africa, focusing on initiatives that help the youth understand their rights. 

In a Friday, December 10 report, SDB members say they work to ensure that all youth know their rights, are able to fully participate in their respective communities, and have their voices heard through institutions of education. 

“Whether it’s combating child labor, assisting homeless youth or building schools where children who previously had no access to education, Salesian missionaries are educating youth on their rights and ensuring access to programs and services they need," SDB members say.

They add that in their over 5,500 Salesian educational institutions and youth centers around the world, children from some of the poorest places on the planet have access to education.

In the report, the Director of the U.S development arm of the SDB, Salesian Missions, says the missionaries provide education on human rights to youths therefore giving them “a sense of personal dignity and self-worth.”

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“At Salesian schools, young children gain an education, learn about their rights and freedoms, and participate in sports and other activities — all in a safe environment that encourages learning and growth,” says Fr. Gus Baek.

Fr. Baek adds, “Education is always our primary focus, but we know youth are dealing with much more than just needing access to education.”  

In the West African nation of Togo, SDB members are supporting juveniles by engaging them in different activities at the Salesian Immaculate Shelter in Kara in the Archdiocese of Lome. 

Launched in October 2020, the center provides “judicial protection to child victims, witnesses, or alleged perpetrators of crimes, including through civil and administrative proceedings,” SDB members say in the report. 

They add, “Those responsible for juvenile justice have strengthened structures to ensure better implementation of the Code of Minors in accordance with international guidelines and standards on juvenile justice.”

More in Africa

In Mali, youth have been provided an opportunity to mingle and access the support of adults at the Salesian Père Michael Training Center in Bamako.

“Youth come to the center to play sports, learn music or study at its library. The center provides a safe haven where youth have an opportunity to live, dream of a future, study, and learn the importance of being committed and collaborating in groups," Salesians in the West African nation report, and add that through these activities, the youth "are able to express themselves freely and access the support of adults.”

The Salesians are “bringing joy, providing education, and cultivating peace among children and older youth,” they say in reference the Père Michael Training Center in Bamako. 

SDB members say their center, which is located in Niarela District in the outskirts of Bamako "keeps its doors open all day and provides support to hundreds of youth." 

"The goal is to keep young people, ages 12-25, away from the street and harmful habits such as alcohol or drugs. Instead, youth are offered an educational space during their free time, which promotes cultural activities and allows the development of values," they say. 

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In November last year, Bosco Global and the Municipality of Pozoblanco in Spain launched music and sports projects to support the center. 

"Over the last year, Salesian missionaries have been able to access sports equipment for the girls’ basketball team, set up a music training center, and organize health and hygiene awareness days to prevent diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle, SDB members say in the December 10 report.

They add, “Youth at the music training center are currently organizing an event in celebration of the year-long Bosco Global support project."