|Spain – 16 April: World Day against Child Slavery|
|Italy – The Rights and tutelage of minors|
|Swaziland – A hot meal for the most needy|
|Ecuador – The “Juscelino Kubitschek” Award for the Project of the “Chicos de la Calle” Foundation|
|Italy – “The Preventive System and Human Rights”: a stimulus for the future|
(ANS – Rome) – For several years, on the initiative of the Christian Cultural Movement, the 16th of April has been proposed as World Day against Child Slavery. Still today there are thousands of millions of minors subject to various forms of slavery and exploitation.
Iqbal Masih, a12 year old Christian Pakistani boy, was killed on the 16th of April 1995 by the textile Mafia of his country because he had denounced the exploitation. Iqbal had worked as a slave in the textile industry from the age of four, but once he was free, he became a witness to this experience, even speaking before parliaments and in Universities of the United States and the European Union.
The educational work of Salesians and Salesian Family groups around the world in many cases starts with the rescue of minors from various forms of slavery. In its convention on ”The Preventive System and Human Rights” , the Salesian Congregation reiterated its will to work in this field. On this occasion several experiences were related.
In Ecuador, for example, the Salesians promote various projects for the rescue and return to society of street and working children. The story of Washington bears witness to this. He turned up 15 years ago in the yard of the Salesian school ofi Guayaqui, seat of the Foundation Project “Street Children”. He had run away from home at the age of six, escaping from the ill-treatment received from his parents. “I finished up on the streets begging for coins, and then drifted into other vices“, he recalls. A Salesian priest invited him to stay. “Everything changed”, says the young man, now aged21, “I went to class, I learned to read and write and to do carpentry”.
Every year between 10 and 15 boys leave the Foundation with trade skills and tools needed to find work. Washington, however, decided to stay in the centre and give carpentry instruction. He told the daily paper “El Comercio”, “Everything I know I have learned here, and now I want to teach others.
Another centre of excellence of the Salesians in Ecuador for the safeguarding of children at risk is The “Centre for Nutrutional and Pedagogical Support” of Cuenca, promoted by the Salesian Foundation “Paces”. Every day the centre assists 120 vulnerable young boys, girls and adolescents , so preventing child labour and guaranteeing continuation in the formal educational system.
The commitment to vulnerable children in danger of exploitation “looks to a different culture of childhood, where all are equal”, explains Edgar Gordillo, the Director of the Salesian Foundation “Paces”.