Young people, especially, face significant challenges in accessing education: with too few teachers, and school buildings destroyed in the war, resources are thin. And persistently high illiteracy rates mean that an estimated 70 percent of Sierra Leone’s young adults are out of work or under-employed. Many families are single-parent households, with children on their own most of the day as their parent struggles to provide for the family out of what meagre income he or she may scrape together.
Many children and young people live on the streets and are prone to involvement in gangs, theft, begging or prostitution. Addiction to alcohol, tramadol, or marijuana is common and the devastation brought by the recent Coronavirus is widespread among the city’s street youth.
Girls and young women are especially vulnerable. Close to 200,000 young girls and older women were sexually assaulted during the decade-long civil war, according to aid agencies.
The Dwarzak Centre offers these young people a space in which to enjoy leisure and sports, get help with schoolwork, a meal, and personal and spiritual accompaniment in a safe and healthy environment, which is otherwise non-existent in the city of Freetown. Salesians promote an attitude of service in the children, teenagers and youth, helping them to become true witnesses of the values they embrace and preparing them to be honest citizens and good, God-fearing people through Christian formation.
Each day 50-100 children between the ages of 7 and 18 (boys and girls) participate in regular recreational, educational and spiritual activities in the Youth Centre. 50 youth receive nutritional assistance three times a week and 80 children receive educational and spiritual assistance at the youth centre six days a week. These activities promote an enriched environment where youth feel secure and free.
Additional activities hosted by the Don Bosco Youth Centre include table tennis, educational films, storytelling events, spelling and quiz competitions, and brass band, keyboard and singing instruction. The Youth Centre also organises sports programming six days a week with soccer and basketball training, friendly matches in Lungi and Freetown, and league competitions. The Salesian centre also serves as a training and meeting place for animators and educators.
To provide this necessary service for the neediest children and young people in Don Bosco Youth Centre in Dwarzak Fr Sergej and the Salesians need our love, prayers and financial support.
Source: Salesians Ireland