Democratic Republic of the Congo - Building a future for young people away from the streets

12 April 2017

(ANS - Lubumbashi) - Poverty and family breakdown are the main reasons for the large number of children and young people who crowd the streets of Lubumbashi, the third largest city of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Often their only shelter is the market stalls, cardboard boxes and an improvised fire.

The Salesians want to help them escape from hunger, violence and fear. The first approach to street children happens by night. Twice a month the Salesians go out to approach them, with great sensitivity, and try to awaken in them the desire to move away from their situation.

The doors of Bakanja Ville, the reception centre, are always open. There they can wash, sleep, eat, wash their clothes, and engage in some small activities.  A personal file is opened for each young person. Then the search is begun for the family, to see if reintegration is possible with the help of social workers.

Each has his own story, and each intervention is customized for the individual. Those who demonstrate a willingness to leave the streets begin their rehabilitation at Bakanja Centre. Here there is a hostel for 80 young people. Some 300 children attend primary school and are offered literacy courses and remedial teaching. There are many success stories born here. Former street children have become teachers, graduates or professionals who have found their place in life.

The Salesian structures hosting young people are numerous and represent different paths available to them. Cité des Jeunes is a vocational school that offers courses in carpentry, auto mechanics, construction, welding, mechanics and agriculture, with a hostel for 60 young people.

Then there is Bakanja Magone, a vocational school which offers craft courses with a hostel for 41 young people. Even those who have already been reintegrated in the family can attend courses in carpentry, mechanics, welding, shoemaking, construction, ceramics, or driving.

Finally, there is the Jacaranda Centre, with a hostel attached for 35 young people. It offers a training course lasting 3-4 years in mathematics, French and agriculture and farming techniques.

Today, 12 April, International Day of Street Children, is a good day to remember that rescuing young people from the street means not only improving their lives, but also offer an alternate path in life.

For more information visit: 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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