(MissionNewswire) The Salesian Diocesan Center of Arts and Trades in Les Cayes, Haiti, has a new back-up electricity system for the school thanks to Salesian Missions donors. The vocational school lost its back-up electrical system during Hurricane Matthew, a Category 4 hurricane that pummeled Haiti on Oct. 4, 2016. The devastating storm affected 2.1 million people including close to 894,000 children, caused close to 1,000 deaths and left nearly 141,000 people displaced.
The back-up electrical system is essential to the operation of the school due to Haiti’s unreliable electricity supply and frequent blackouts. With the electrical system restored, the school will have the power needed to use the computer lab and classrooms when the city electricity is down.
“We are grateful for our donors who enabled this back-up electrical system to be restored as it’s essential to the operation of our school,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesian of Don Bosco. “Vocational and technical training programs help students become contributing adults in their communities. Schools in Haiti, and around the globe, go above and beyond educating. They also assist youth in making connections within industries while preparing them for the process of searching, finding and retaining employment.”
The Diocesan Center of Arts and Trades opened its doors to poor youth in Haiti in 1983. The center provides technical/vocational training for youth as well as educational and sports programs. Funding to operate the school comes from the support of donors from Fonds Misereor, school tuition fees and minor assistance from the Haitian government for teacher salaries. Since most of the students come from very poor backgrounds, Salesian missionaries charge only minimal tuition fees to those who can offer a small contribution, leaving the school facing economic limitations.
Salesian missionaries began working in Haiti in 1935 in response to the Haitian government’s request for a professional school. Since then, Salesian missionaries have expanded their work to include 10 main educational centers and more than 200 schools across the country.
The 10 main centers each include a number of primary and secondary schools, vocational training centers and other programs for street children and youth in need. Salesian programs are located throughout Haiti, including in the cities of Port-au-Prince, Fort-Liberté, Cap-Haïtien, Les Cayes and Gressier. Today, Salesian missionaries in Haiti provide the largest source of education outside of the Haitian government and their programs serve more than 25,000 Haitian children.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas ranking 163 out of 188 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index. The country also faces the highest levels of severe food insecurity in the world, according to the World Food Programme. More than half of the country’s population was chronically undernourished during 2012-2014, representing a total of 5.3 million Haitians. Nearly 100,000 Haitian children under the age of 5 suffer from acute malnutrition, causing irreversible stunted growth for close to 30 percent of all children in the country.