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Sri Lanka – Education and shelter at Don Bosco Murunkan

03 November 2020

(ANS – Mannar) – Sixty boys are receiving education and shelter and having their basic needs met at Don Bosco Murunkan, located in Mannar, Sri Lanka, thanks to donor funding received from Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. This helps keep the boys safe during the coronavirus pandemic. Many of the students are orphans or only have one parent, usually their mother, and are unable to pay their expenses at Don Bosco Murunkan. The funding ensures they are able to continue to receive their education in a safe and supportive environment while being fed nutritious meals to address the undernourishment many have suffered.

All of the children attending Don Bosco Murunkan come from villages that are very poor, and they have been affected by the war. Their parents, if they are still alive, are poor daily wage laborers. Some only have their mothers because their fathers were killed during the war. Politically, these families have very little power, do not own land and have few rights. They are still treated as second class citizens. Many do not have proper houses to live in or access to regular work. They depend on the government for help, such as being provided a widow’s pension.

Because of the conditions of poverty in which they were raised, many of the students at Don Bosco Murunkan are not healthy and are undernourished. The students are staying at a boarding house and are being provided three meals a day and snacks to help improve their health so they can focus on their studies. With the funding, Salesians are able to provide the students with chicken, beef, eggs, vegetables and fruits. They also have access to clean water, soap, face masks and washing basins to practice good hygiene.

In addition to their studies, youth are able to have recreation time with their peers. Salesians have games and sports equipment for youth to play and learn new skills. The recreation activities also ensure youth are able to get exercise and learn team-building.

“Don Bosco Murunkan is ensuring that these youth have access to education and the healthy nutrition they need to concentrate on their studies,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “Having a clean environment and access to soap and clean water is particularly important during this pandemic. We are grateful to our donors who are helping these 60 young students have hope for the future and a better life.”

Sri Lanka has suffered a long civil war that ended in 2009, two tsunamis in the past 13 years, and a worst-ever dengue crisis that killed nearly 300 people and infected more than 100,000 this year alone, according to NPR. Nine out of 10 poor people in Sri Lanka live in rural areas, according to the World Bank. More than 40 percent of the country’s rural poor are small-scale farmers with farm production often hampered by neglect and low investment levels resulting from poor financial services and limited technology.

Sri Lankans are affected by a significant lack of infrastructure including roads, electricity, irrigation systems and communication channels. In several areas of the country, seven out of 10 people have no access to electricity and almost half of the population does not have access to safe drinking water. Malnutrition among children is also common.

Salesian missionaries have been operating in Sri Lanka since 1956. In 1963, missionaries set up their first technical institute and since then have established 17 more in locations across the country.

Source: Mission Newswire

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