Since November 1991, the Salesian-founded and inspired Hong Kong 'Youth Outreach' has accompanied thousands of young people in crisis, offering a broad variety of emergency or preventive youth programs in the city.
It started with the firm will to reach the youth in the streets on a small scale, with Salesian and Social welfare professionals contributing from a small room, which has grown to a 16-floor building with more than 100 staff, many volunteers and thousands of supporters as the 'secret' to this success.
For the past 30 years the YO 'way' consists in sharing responsibility for the mission with many 'lay' mission partners, networking with many private and government institutions. Many former ‘street youth’ have been transformed into Outreach staff (social workers, educators, program leaders).
Some of the services offered include nightly street outreach, short-term accommodation, a crisis phone line, counselling, 24/7 open 'Hang-out', Hip hop school and competitions and many other programs. As a non-profit organization in Hong Kong, the YO Foundation has relied on Hong Kong based benefactors for the necessary funds.
The Chinese name of Youth Outreach is special, where the second character 青, meaning green or youth, symbolizes youthfulness and liveliness, and its character position between 協, meaning aid, and 社, meaning society, creates the picture of youth being supported and cared for.
The Salesian East-Asia Oceania story begins in 1906 with the missionary outreach of the group led by Fr Louis Versiglia; however, it wasn’t until 1923 that the Salesians came to Hong Kong. Tragically, the COVID-19 pandemic hit Hong Kong hard; 1 in 5 now live in poverty, the highest rate in over a decade.
Republished from the Spring 2022 Salesian Bulletin