(MissionNewswire) Salesian Missions is committed to improving the wellbeing of children and families in Uganda, a country rebuilding after decades of war as well as facing the serious increase of HIV/AIDS cases which have left millions of children orphaned. Recently, Salesian Missions donors provided the Don Bosco Children and Life Mission, located in the town of Namugongo just 10 miles northeast of the city of Kampala in Central Uganda, the funding to support a Salesian program that helps children living in poverty who are HIV positive.
The funding is providing educational courses, medical treatment, medicines and nutritional meals for youth living with HIV/AIDS. These youth are also eligible to receive counseling, recreation opportunities, medical observation and critical antiretroviral therapy treatments (ART). The Salesian program has been particularly effective because youth are able to study and build peer relationships in a safe and supportive environment free from the stigma and rejection they previously encountered.
“The work of Salesian missionaries around the globe goes beyond education,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “We aim to serve the whole person by making sure that basic needs like health and nutrition are met in addition to other social service needs.”
Don Bosco Children and Life Mission provides more than 140 at-risk boys aged 6 to 18 access to primary, secondary and technical education along with sports programming, youth clubs, guidance counseling and life skills training. Students also have the opportunity to participate in a variety of extracurricular activities including jazz band, brass band, acrobatics and programs by Youth Alive Uganda, an organization that works with youth to promote social skills and values.
In addition, Salesian feeding programs in the country have proven critical to student success. When children, particularly those suffering from illness, come to school hungry, they are less likely to follow the instructions of their educators and improve their performance. As a result of Salesian feeding programs, students are thriving. Many have gained weight, suffered fewer illnesses and become more focused on their studies. Teachers are seeing better student performance in class, a decrease in absenteeism and an increase in program enrollment rates.
The number of Ugandans living below the poverty line declined from 31.1 percent in 2006 to 19.7 percent in 2013, where it stands today. While the country has seen some economic growth as well as improvement in its Human Development Index ranking over the last 20 years, the country still ranks near the bottom at 163 out of 188 countries.
After decades of war left many displaced, the people of Uganda face many significant challenges as they work to rebuild their country. While 73 percent of Uganda’s population is literate, only 23 percent of Ugandans go on to acquire a secondary education, according to UNICEF. Salesian programs give Ugandan students a space for learning while also helping to meet their basic needs.
UNICEF – Uganda