Missioni Don Bosco continues to do all it can to support young people living in the poorest regions on Earth

16 June is a day that draws global attention to the living conditions of millions of vulnerable children: it is the International Day of the African Child. Established in 1991 by the African Union, formerly the Organization of African Unity, it recalls the massacre of students in Soweto, South Africa, in 1976, during the protest against racial segregation in access to education. And it has become a time for reflection and commitment to children’s rights on the world’s youngest continent.

“Celebrating the Day of the African Child must mean an investment in the future and present for the nearly 6 million children no more than five years of age, or the more than 45 million who do not have access to education. The sub-Saharan part of Africa does not provide health and welcome for all its children”, noted Fr Daniel Antúnez, Director of Missioni Don Bosco, the Salesian Mission Office based in Turin, in a letter he wrote to them for this occasion.

The great prospects for improvement hoped for last century, the frontiers of poverty that the richest states have repeatedly promised to help Africans overcome, are still further in the future. “Even the most optimistic do not believe that the ‘targets’ set by international organisations can be reached in this generation”, adds Fr Antúnez.

“Aware that they represent a drop in the ocean”, the Salesians confirm “their wager on the possibility that the new African generations will build a different world. Starting from basic education and immediately after preparation for professions ’that are needed’, in order to offer a chance for development and self-determination' the letter goes on to say.

There should be less rhetoric about African children and we should shift our commitment to creating the conditions for fundamental human rights to be respected.

That is why Missioni Don Bosco is always carrying out important projects to take care of those who are most fragile, such as the hundreds of children and young people who attend the classrooms in the “Children And Life Mission” (CALM), the Salesian centre founded in 2001 in Namugongo, Uganda, on the outskirts of the capital, Kampala, a work frequented by street children, orphans, abandoned youngsters or HIV-positive children.

CALM’s school facilities need renovation and to be maintained to ensure students a healthy and enjoyable environment for study and other activities. And Missioni Don Bosco has decided to support this work, aware of what it does daily for hundreds of children in need.

Today, CALM has 526 children it assists and cares for – 386 of them attend primary school and 140 attend pre-school and kindergarten. In addition to literacy and education programs, the Centre allows young people to engage in recreational and sports activities, such as music, theatre, dance, gardening, soccer, volleyball, and basketball.

CALM is a house filled with practical approaches and the Salesian charism, located in one of the most difficult places in which to grow up to adulthood.

Although Uganda has experienced some economic growth and improvement in the Human Development Index (HDI) over the past 20 years, there is still an increase in school dropouts and acute malnutrition affecting thousands of children in the country. The Salesians, in addition to managing a vast program of literacy and education with different schools of every order and grade, provide all students with a complete meal through school canteens, a meal that for many is the only meal that day, an incentive for many families to send their children to school.

With thanks to ANS for this story