Sierra Leone – "Don Bosco" Youth Center in Freetown: factory that saves lives with a smile

24 February 2021

(ANS - Freetown) - Thousands of minors roam the streets of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, every day. They don't go to school because they are orphans or have been kicked out or ran away from home and survive by grouping into gangs. In many cases they come from large families where there was not enough food or space for everyone, and if they are girls or young women the dangers for them double ... The coronavirus, in this past year, has further increased the problems for these children, that during the lockdown they had nowhere to hide. However, the “Don Bosco” youth center of Dwarzak parish in Freetown has become a big family for them, where they can play, learn, receive food and, at the same time, lay the foundations for a dignified future.

Fr Sergej Goman is a Salesian missionary from Belarus. Just over forty, he spent most of his religious life in West Africa. In Sierra Leone he dedicated himself to street children, Ebola orphans. During the pandemic he also collaborated on various projects with the "Don Bosco Fambul" work. For three years he has been in charge of the “Don Bosco” Youth Center in Dwarzak and has become a father-figure for dozens of abandoned or problematic minors.

The Salesian center offers young people a space for recreation and sports, to receive school help, a meal and personal and spiritual accompaniment in a safe and healthy environment, where joy and laughter are the protagonists. Salesians promote an attitude of service in children, adolescents and young people, helping them to become honest citizens and good and devoted people.

Every day about 50-100 boys and girls aged between 7 and 18 participate in the recreational, educational and spiritual activities of the Youth Center. 50 young people receive nutritional assistance three times a week and 80 children receive educational and spiritual assistance at the Youth Center, six days a week. These activities promote an environment full of values and hope, where young people feel safe and free.

Other activities are table tennis, educational films, performances and quizzes, the music band, music courses ... The Youth Center also organizes sports programming six days a week with football and basketball training, friendly matches in Lungi and Freetown, and championship races; it also offers formation and meeting spaces for animators and educators.

In a country of enormous contradictions - it has a population among the youngest in the world, but also one of the lowest life expectancies, there is no shortage of resources, yet poverty is very high - the Salesians help to educate aware young people in joy and serenity of their rights and their possibilities, so that they can write bright pages in the history of Sierra Leone.


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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