(MissionNewswire) Students and staff at the Salesian Vocational Training Center in Rukago, Burundi, have access to better nutrition thanks to Salesian Missions donors. Recent funding was provided to build a new kitchen at the center where lunches can be prepared. Prior to the donation, the daily lunches offered each student were prepared in an inadequate and unsanitary kitchen.
Salesian missionaries in the area are working to improve opportunities for vocational and technical skills training for youth so they are better able to find and retain stable employment. More than 230 students attend the vocational training center taking courses in mechanics, carpentry, welding and construction. In addition to their studies, they dedicate time to traditional activities such as catechism and sports.
In 2017, the Spanish Salesian-run organization, Don Bosco Solidarity, launched a project called, “Improving the Opportunities of Women in Rukago.” The initiative was launched to help women gain the skills needed to find and retain employment and is in direct response to the stigma of HIV and high rates of sexual violence and maternal mortality faced by women in Burundi.
The project is fostering the participation of young women in the field of vocational training. New courses have been developed in cooking and hotel management in addition to workshops that are helping to educate the community about gender equality and the benefits of quality employment for women.
Bridging the gap between school curriculum and the practical skills needed to succeed in the labor market, the project offers women a chance to put the skills they have learned in the classroom into practice under the guidance of qualified workers and supervisors. Through this work in the field, students are learning new techniques and gaining a hands-on application of classroom studies.
“Access to education is providing women opportunities they may never have imagined possible,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Women are the backbone of the family unit and families succeed when women are able to access quality employment. Additional workshops will also help women make better decisions in their lives.”
“We are also very grateful to our donors who helped Salesian missionaries develop a new kitchen at the center so that students can have a proper meal at lunch. The older kitchen was not adequate given the number of students. This new kitchen enables Salesian staff to better meet the needs of students,” adds. Fr. Hyde.
Burundi, located in the heart of the African Great Lakes region, has seen more than a decade of violence and conflict which has contributed to widespread poverty, according to UNICEF. Burundi ranks 184 out 188 countries on the 2015 UN Human Development Index and close to 70 percent of its residents live below the poverty line.
Children are some of the most severely affected by the country’s rampant poverty. Fifty-three percent of children under the age of 5 suffer from growth stunting caused by inadequate food, low-quality diet, poor infant feeding practices, poor household management of childhood diseases and the general decline of the country’s health system.
UNICEF – Burundi