Ethiopia - The Salesians' work in Dilla: nourishing the body, nourishing the mind

28 January 2019

(ANS - Dilla) - Dilla is a town of about 90,000 inhabitants, located in the south of Ethiopia, whose economy is mainly based on the cultivation of coffee. The population growth has led to the problem of the subdivision of the land: many families have had to give up their plots and have been forced to move, often moving to the outskirts of the city and losing the food autonomy that was guaranteed by the small land that they used to cultivate.

Thus today on the outskirts of Dilla live hundreds of families who are forced to live in conditions of extreme poverty and unable to have their children attend elementary school.

The spiritual Sons of Don Bosco have been present in the city since 1982, with various activities, many of which are aimed at school-aged children. The elementary school, however, was inaugurated just one year ago, in January 2018, and with its 554 students, aged 5 to 12, it is already now one of the projects that has had the greatest positive impact on families.

The intention, however, is to do even better: given the large number of needy children and given the surrounding context the Salesians have proposed to act on two complementary fronts: "We want to set up two new classes for 78 boys and girls aged between 7 and 9 years; and we want to guarantee to every child the possibility of receiving at least one hot meal every day," they say in no uncertain terms.

Defeating the scourge of illiteracy is the first step in building a fairer society. But it has also been shown that malnutrition and denutrition play a major role in child growth, impairing physical development and learning abilities.

For this reason the Salesians have decided to launch this dual project, food and education: because a child cannot really learn on a perpetually empty stomach, and because food alone is not enough to turn children into responsible men and women.

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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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