Democratic Republic of Congo – Rehabilitation of "shégués" - street children

23 November 2016

(ANS - Lubumbashi) – They are driven out of home because they are accused of witchcraft or theft ... or they move away gradually from the family of origin which cannot care for them because of poverty. They become the children who throng the slums and the markets of the huge metropolis of the continent, sleeping and living in the open, exposed to all forms of danger and violence. They are the street children, the so-called "shégués" in the jargon of the street. They are the forgotten children of Africa. But sometimes, some of them, meet the Salesians who offer to take care of them, and then their future can change.

Fr Eric Meert, a Belgian Salesian missionary, is one of the leaders of Opera Mamma Margherita in Lubumbashi, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. With his co-worker Simeon he contacts the street children at night in the streets of the big city. The first approach is the most important: we must convey an affectionate interest in the young people and their stories. Then we invite them to come to Bakanja Ville, the Salesian Centre for homeless children.

It is essential that the decision to go at the Salesian centre be made by the children. The choice of a new life must come from themselves. When the children take this step, they receive first aid, they can wash, and they can play in a safe place under the watchful and loving eye of the Salesians and educators.

Then, if they show that they want to leave the street life permanently, they can follow a long and complex course of rehabilitation in the other Salesian rehabilitation centres at Michael Magone and Cité des Jeunes where they are given literacy classes, schooling, psychological and spiritual care, and later technical and vocational training.

The goal of the project is twofold: first, family reunification, where possible, with the help of the Salesians, psychologists and, not least, the social workers.

The second, in true Salesian style, is to secure a future for children who no longer have family links, because they are orphans or because contacts or relationships with parents or other relatives prove impossible.

An adult who lives a life of dignity can in turn ensure a bright future for their children and contribute to the development of the country.

Source: Missioni Don Bosco



ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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