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Present in Ethiopia since 1975 the Salesians have always worked with and for the children and more vulnerable young people. Mainly they provide primary and secondary education, but they are also involved in development projects helping with the provision of food, drinking water, preventative medicine, emergency assistance and agriculture.
In Addis Abeba, the capital of the country, since 1998 the Salesian Brother Donato Galletta has organised the “Donato’s Children of the beggars” project supported by the Salesian Mission Office in New Rochelle and the United States’ Humanitarian Agency USAID (United States Agency for International Development) through their “CARING Orphans and Vulnerable Children” programme.
The “Donato’s Children of the beggars” project is unique of its kind and a model in the area of the rehabilitation of children at risk on the streets of Addis Abeba, in the first place those living with their parents but spending the day begging.
Very often these children are living in very precarious conditions and their parents or those looking after them cannot afford to send them to schools or feed them regularly. The Social workers in the project go round the city personally contacting the parents or those looking after the child beggars to convince them to sent them to the “Don Bosco” Youth Centre at Makanissa, Addis Abeba. Once they go there each day they are given a full meal and two snacks and the opportunity to go to school and take advantage of the other support services available.
At present there are 513 children enrolled in the programme of “Donato’s Children of the beggars” and they are given special courses to prepare them later to join in formal classes. The project also caters for the needs of older youngsters: those over fifteen are offered training so that they can become self-employed traders earning an honest livelihood.
Using Don Bosco’s Preventive System, the Salesians are teaching the children to develop above all life skills and fundamental human values as they grow up.