NEW ROCHELLE, NY & FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE (Oct. 16, 2012) More than 1,400 youth and adults participating in eight different Salesian-run programs in Sierra Leone have better access to nutrition thanks to a recent donation of fortified rice-meals from Numana.
The Salesians of Don Bosco in Sierra Leone have used the donation to provide a balanced lunch for children from very poor families in the Salesian preschool and primary schools. For some of the students, this is the only balanced meal received a day. Many families work each day selling things in the market and on the streets and are only able to provide their families the basics of daily survival.
“Many of the youth who participate in Salesian programs in Sierra Leone are malnourished,” says Fr. Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions—the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “When youth receive nutritious meals through our programs, they are better prepared to take part in the counseling and education offered—as well as to face their future.”
The Salesian programs in Sierra Leone also assist youth who work in the markets with their parents. Many of the children have to work because their parents do not see school as a necessity. The Mama Margaret program offers parents a plate of food for their children in exchange for two or three hours of classes given by local youth volunteers.
One of the youth who benefited from the donation at the Mama Margaret program is Joseph, who has been attending the program for the last three years. Joseph does not know his parents, who abandoned the family many years ago. He lives with his grandmother who once sold condiments and onions in the market before an illness left her paralyzed. No longer able to care for Joseph and his siblings, the children took on the responsibility of caring for her.
As a result the siblings left school and were found begging on the streets or carrying things for strangers to earn money to bring home. Joseph, the youngest of the siblings, spends almost all day in the Mama Margaret Center. There he is able to bathe, have help washing his clothing, and is fed a plate of fortified rice. Through the Numana donation, the program is also feeding the grandmother and the other siblings.
Other programs that have benefited by the donation include the Sisters of Mother Theresa of Calcutta—a center for youth and adults who have been abandoned by their families, mainly due to health problems—and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny who provide education and residential programs for those on the streets and those with mental illness. The Sisters use the rice to feed the poor and the sick in their programs and when able, share the rice with some of the very poor families that live nearby.
“They use the rice-meals to share a daily meal with those in need in their programs,” says Fr. Hyde. “Donations like these are critical as sometimes the donated meals we provide are the only food a person will receive all day.”
To make a donation to support feeding programs around the globe go to SalesianMissions.org.
Salesian Missions – Sierra Leone