South Africa – “Waves of Change”: Salesians for redemption of young people in difficult situations

16 April 2021

(ANS - Cape Town) - South Africa is a place rich in history, which has not yet managed to come to terms with its past: apartheid, racial segregation, has been definitively abolished, but social inequalities continue to still run deep. Being born from a family that until a few years ago was experiencing the violence of segregation is really a big burden to bear: unemployment, crime, dropping out of school continue to be phenomena that involve those young people who are still suffering the effects of apartheid.

Furthermore, the legacy of apartheid, together with the irreconcilable differences in interpreting its meaning, still hinders the effort to create a consolidated national identity and a coherent and inclusive social order. The townships, the symbolic ghettos of apartheid, still exist and are more crowded than ever. And in this reality many young people of color continue to grow up in situations of extreme difficulty.

The Salesians arrived in the country in 1896 and, as is their style, they immediately concentrated their efforts on creating real opportunities for the future for the most vulnerable youth. The Sons of Don Bosco know that in order to free oneself from a condition of social risk, one must first of all start from formation, the key to access to decent work and, consequently, to a peaceful life far from the risks of the road.

Now, for this reason, in the specific reality of Cape Town, where they have been active since 1910, they have decided to start a vocational training project aimed at young people at risk: street children, ex-prisoners, gang members, often suffering from addictions, all without a job and a family network. This is the "Waves of Change" program (WOC) and that in a city where the port is one of the world's most important and the induced activity generated by the naval sector has a very significant weight, it aims to increase employment of young people at risk in the maritime industry.

Specifically, the Salesians in Cape Town intend to train 200 young people and young adults at risk (aged between 18 and 35), so that they become qualified sailors who can work with competence and dedication aboard ships. In addition to specific training in the sector, the project also provides special attention to the so-called "Life Skills", the set of social, cognitive and personal skills that allow us to positively face the demands and challenges that the professional environment reserve for us in everyday life in general. A dimension that is by no means negligible, especially for these young people marked by problematic situations.

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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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