It all began with Don Bosco…
… and grew bigger and stronger through love. John Bosco was a young priest who was deeply shaken by the lives of poor and homeless children on the streets of Turin. Having no stability and no support system the children would often turn to a life of crime or die while trying to survive.
With the help of Mary, Help of christians he gathered a handful of teenagers in 1841., but soon had several hundred kids coming to him on Sundays for Mass, religious instruction and an afternoon of recreation. The normalcy, support and stability he gave the youth paid off.
Having no base at the time, they met wherever he could find enough space for an informal Sunday gathering that Don Bosco called the Oratory.
“Do you want to help Don Bosco?” – he asked some of the youngsters.The youth saw that he cared with a sincere heart and started to volunteer, slowly creating the Salesians, a religious community of brothers and priests dedicated to Youth ministry.
The humble beginnings with only 18 “Salesians” ranging 16 to 22 years of age changed the lives of youth throughout the world. Today there are over 14 thousand Salesians all over the world.
While Don Bosco was building the Salesians, the love of youth moved a small group of young women including Mary Mazzarelo. Fr. Pestarino, a parish priest, approached Don Bosco telling him that this particular group of women was interested in forming a community dedicated to the care of young people
Don Bosco then met Mary Mazzarello, the leader of the group, and after much discussion and planning they established the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. Mary was canonized on June 24, 1951. and is St. Mary Mazzarello, one of the salesian patron saints.
The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians serve in over 132 countries and have dedicated their lives to the care and education of young people by bringing the Gospel of Jesus to them.
Salesians of Don Bosco and the Salesian family
St. John Bosco made it his life’s mission to bring holiness to everyone while helping youth in need every way he could. His work began with a religious community of Brothers and Priests, later known as the Salesians of Don Bosco.
The Salesian Sisters, officially known as the Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians, are a catholic religious community of women founded by St. Maria Domenica Mazzarello and St. John Bosco. They are also one of the best-known members of the Salesian Family.
Don Bosco also established a group called the Salesian Cooperators. The cooperators are lay men and women who live the spirituality and ministry of the Salesians in their everyday lives. Their ministry is not confined to the Church and it includes the workplace, their home and society in general.
Don Bosco’s Past Pupils are men and women who as young people attended a Salesian school, club or parish, and like the Cooperators live the Salesian Spirit in the workplace, the home and society.
One of the fundamental connections that all members of the Salesian family share is a special love for children and youth.
Salesians minister to young people through schools, parishes, youth centers, in the world… Wherever young people can be found – we as Salesians will go. It is our mission to be signs and bearers of God’s love for the young while providing spiritual, emotional and material support that they may need.
Don Bosco had a special place in his heart for all youth. He wanted us to use all of our energy and creativity in bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to youth through the Salesian Youth Ministry. Being innovative in his approach to even the most troubled youth, Don Bosco left us with a map to follow and a dream to continue.
The Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) began their work in Ethiopia in 1975. They were legally registered under the Ethiopian Catholic Church Social and Development Commission by the Ethiopian Residents Charity with registration number 0756.
We now have a well-established presence in Ethiopia and have been operating in five regions of Ethiopia:
- Tigray Regional State (Adigrat, Adwa, Mekelle, and Shire)
- Gambella Regional State (Gambella and Punido)
- Southern Nations National People Regional State (Soddo and Dilla town)
- Oromia Regional State Zway (Adamitulu and Debre Zeit towns)
- Addis Ababa City Administration with three Centers/Communities (Don Bosco Mekanissa, Bosco Children Jemo)
From 1975. till now, SDB has carried out different activities and projects targeting all kinds of youth issues. With providing education and a safe place we were able to protect their basic needs and aid in their development giving them a chance for a childhood instead of being just numbers.
EDUCATION IS KEY
Education helped address many cross-cutting issues in our work, such as gender specific issues, HIV/AIDS, environment protection, even issues related to water and sanitation. Education levels the field giving the children an opportunity to survive and thrive in their environment.
Schools offer both an education and a social experience, giving the children a unique chance to grow and develop in all areas of life.
The organization is therefore committed to running primary schools, high schools, technical and vocational education training (TVET) colleges and youth centers.
In addition, we offer feeding programs, rehabilitation centers and integrated holistic education programs for street children and we are actively involved in emergency situations that occur in Ethiopia.
Why street children?
The target group of the present initiative are children and youth at risk, especially ‘’street children’’.
The numbers paint a grim picture:
- At the moment approximately 5.5 million children in Ethiopia are in difficult or unfit circumstances (orphaned, displaced, abandoned, working, sexually abused children, etc)
- Street children are found in each of these categories as the most disadvantaged children call the street their living room, sleeping area and unfortunately, the only home they know of
- Only 1.8 % of those 5.5 million are receiving any meaningful help through services. We are working to change that narrative and make resources accessible to disadvantaged youth
In 2009 UNICEF estimated that there were between 150,000 and 200,000 street children nationwide, with another 1,000,000 vulnerable or at-risk youth ending up in the streets.
25% of them are forced to live in the streets because due to having no contact with parents or relatives. There are about 60000 street children in Addis Ababa alone.
Most disadvantaged children have no access to food and education as almost half of the children under 5 years are underfed. For every 1000 children born, 109 die before they reach 5 years of age. Helping them helps us all.
Our objective with this Project is to develop street children, vulnerable children and children at-risk as fully rounded individuals.
By providing them with a sense of belonging and dignity, we aim to do what Don Bosco taught us – to help them become good and honest citizens. That way they too can become a part of the solution and actively contribute in resolving social problems in Addis Ababa.
Providing family based support to children at risk
Helping street children included in the orientation program find their way
Providing institutional care programs to street children
Reintegrating Street Children into society as members of value
Practical trainee (Salesian in formation)
: Ethiopia +251 96 702 6984
Abbreviations in text:
- SFr – Salesian Father *Priest*
- SLBr – Salesian Lay Brother *religious person*
- LM – Lay Missionary
- SBF– Salesian Brother in formation