Salesian Missions Planning Two New Agricultural Schools in Cambodia, Marks World Food Day

NEW ROCHELLE, NY (October 17, 2009) – Salesian Missions has announced it is in the planning stages to open two new agricultural schools in Cambodia next year, just as World Food Day and a new report from the United Nations highlight the need for such programs.

“Investing in agriculture in developing countries is key as a healthy agricultural sector is essential not only to overcome hunger and poverty, but also to ensure overall economic growth and peace and stability in the world,” said Josette Sheeran, executive director of the World Food Program, in an Oct. 14 United Nations press release announcing the economic crisis has lead to a sharp increase in hunger, affecting the world's poorest.

Salesian Missions currently operates more than 90 agricultural schools around the world. The plans for the two new schools in Cambodia – one in Poipet and the other in Battambang - should be in place early next year, according to Matt Welsh, program officer with Salesian Missions. When the schools actually open is largely based on when the necessary funds will be raised, he added.

“We are in the process of developing model farms at these two sites, where villagers will be provided relevant training in modern farming methods with the goal of increasing crop yields,” said Welsh who oversees specific Salesian Missions programs in Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia.

Like their counterparts in other countries, the agricultural schools will serve youth ages 15 to 20.

“These are young people from marginalized, disadvantaged families, who do not have the resources to send their kids to school otherwise,” said Welsh, who added that the schools are estimated to serve more than 100 students at a time.

“Salesian Missions has provided schools like these all over the developing world,” said Welsh. “Not only can they provide skills training, but also food for students and their families.”

Salesian Missions provides not only educational opportunities in more than 130 countries around the globe, they address core needs. The agricultural schools offer more than just agricultural training - they are often part of a larger program that also offers literacy education and other vocational training, in addition to feeding programs for hungry children.

“The core of our mission is to provide educational opportunities to the poorest of the poor. When the youth receive training, they stay and contribute to the local economy and the needs of their communities,” said Welsh. “This delivers benefits for years after they leave our institute.”

Salesians have been operating vocational training programs around the world for nearly 150 years and were invited by the Cambodian government in 1991 to establish a vocational training institute in Phnom Penh.

ABOUT SALESIAN MISSIONS

Salesian Missions is headquartered in New Rochelle, NY. The mission of the U.S.-based nonprofit Catholic organization is to raise funds for its international programs that serve youth and families in poor communities around the globe. The Salesian missionaries are made up of priests, brothers and sisters, as well as laypeople - all dedicated to caring for poor children throughout the world in more than 130 countries, helping young people become self-sufficient by learning a trade that will help them gain employment. To date, more than 3 million youth have received services funded by Salesian Missions. These services and programs are provided to children regardless of race or religion. To date, more than 5 million Americans have contributed financially to this work.