Population:9.9 millionLiteracy Rate:88%Religion: Roman Catholic (95%)
Salesian Missions is paving the path toward a better future for young people, where half of youth ages 13-18 suffer in poverty and lack needed skills to compete in the job market. The Salesians are using innovative approaches to prevent children from life on the streets and the lure of gangs. And they are instilling knowledge and values that will carry forward in the generations to come.
Give Hope to Street Children
In the Dominican Republic, sports help youth to grow and develop into healthy, caring members of society--and pass on their knowledge for generations to come. One example is Edward Garcia who left his life on the street as a shoe shiner to enter the “Boys and Girls with Don Bosco” program in Santo Domingo.
“The project helped me get into school, but it wasn’t easy,” said Edward. “I went hungry many nights just to be able to afford school supplies.”
After finishing his studies, Edward stayed involved in the program – working with youth in the same situation he had been. He later graduated from the university with a degree in public relations and now is in charge of the graphic design department at the Salesian Technical Institute, where he also teaches.
“There are only three of my childhood friends that are alive since most of them got into gangs. This project saved my life from the personal perspective to the professional development. I don’t know what would have happened to me if it wasn’t for this project,” said Edward. “I still play basketball with the boys & girls in the project. This is the best way to discover their personalities and different ways I can help them.”
More Missions in Dominican Republic
In the Dominican Republic, women striving for a better life find support with the “Madres Project” in Santo Domingo. The project addresses the root causes of street children by working with mothers. By learning skills to earn a living wage in the workforce, women in charge of families can improve their living conditions and keep their children off the streets. Women complete courses in literacy, post-literacy, health care and various modules of computer studies. All training modules include lessons in human rights. The program is a partnership with Salesian Missions and the International Volunteer Movement for Development. In addition, they run a training program for youth in the poorest areas of the city called “Boys and Girls with Don Bosco.”
Nearly half of youth ages 13-18 are poor in the Dominican Republic, according to UNICEF. Many of these youth lack the access to education and training which would help them compete in the job market. Through the new Salesian Information Technology Center in Moca, children and youth are receiving communications and computer technology training. Since opening its doors, the facility has provided training to hundreds students. The impact of the Salesian Technology Center is far reaching. Students will use their new technology skills in ways that will benefit their entire community. With updated technology and better communication, many families will have access to a wealth of knowledge for the first time.
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