On International Youth Day, Salesians Review Youth Empowerment Initiatives in Africa

Credit: Salesian Missions

On the annual event of the International Youth Day (IYD) marked August 12, officials of a development entity of the Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) have reviewed their initiatives that seek to empower young people across the globe, including Africa.

In a report published on August 12, the leadership of Salesian Missions, the U.S.-based development arm of SDB, revisited youth empowerment initiatives in education and social development in Benin and Tanzania.

“Working in more than 130 countries around the globe, Salesian missionaries provide a range of social development and educational programs that aim to help youth have their basic needs met while gaining an education for future employment,” officials of the New York-based entity say.

In facilitating the empowerment programs, SDB officials continue, “Salesian missionaries offer more than 5,500 primary and secondary schools and more than 1,000 vocational, technical, professional and agricultural schools around the globe.”

In the West African nation of Benin, Salesians are empowering the youth admitted at Foyer Don Bosco, a home that, according to Salesian Missions, “serves boys and girls in very complex situations, including those who have been abandoned by their families, victims of abuse, and victims of forced marriages.”


“The area of Kandi often has an influx of children who are on their own,” officials of the Salesian entity say in the August 12 report, and add, “Children are sometimes sold on the black market and exploited in the workforce.”

The report indicates that Foyer Don Bosco was initiated in partnership with the juvenile courts of Benin, where “minors who are in conflict with the law and in high-risk situations are assisted by the Salesians.”

They say that the children in the home are also among those intercepted by the police at the borders who are normally being trafficked from Niger and Burkina Faso. 

Meanwhile, in Tanzania, the Salesian report speaks about a renewable energy program that has benefited over 300 learners who were trained in solar installation, operation and maintenance.

The training that took place from 1 August 2020 to 31 May 2021 at the Don Bosco training centers in Dodoma and Iringa saw learners receive training that would make them self-employed. 

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“Students benefited from solar technician courses along with soft skills training, field attachments, job search help and other career guidance,” SDB officials say in the August 12 report.

“Business development services training started for 94 short course students and 110 Level III trainees,” they say, and continue, “Students now have the knowledge and skills to develop and implement business plans and formally register their businesses.”

In the report, the Director of Salesian Missions has underscored the importance of education, saying that it lays a foundation for the future of the young people. 

“In many countries where poverty is high and access to education is not universal,” Fr. Gus Baek is quoted as saying, “Salesians are providing critical training so that youth can learn a trade and lead productive lives.”

The IYD was established by the United Nations (UN) in 1999 to raise awareness of issues affecting young people around the world. This year’s theme for IYD is, “Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages”.


The event focuses on “ageism against youth and raises awareness on barriers to intergenerational solidarity, including ageism, which the United Nations notes impacts the young and old while having detrimental effects on society as a whole.”

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.