(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries in the Central African Republic have raised more than 100,000 euros through their Peace Spaces campaign, which aims to raise funding to help thousands of children and young adult in the districts of Damala and Galabadja in the capital city of Bangui. Missionaries operate centers in the two districts and hope to bring a sense of normalcy and structure to the lives of the local children by returning to a regular schedule of school and social development programs like sports and music.
Since violence initially broke 2012, since violence initially broke out in December 2012 between Séléka rebels and Christian anti-balaka militia groups more than 6,000 people have died and more than 650,000 were internally displaced with more than 232,000 in the capital city of Bangui alone. Another 300,000 had fled across the borders as refugees. In 2015, peace had begun to return to the country but smaller outbreaks of violence continue. Small markets are opened, taxi service is available, and residents have begun to move back and forth safely between locations.
During the height of the conflict, the Salesian center in Galabadja had been host to 20,000 displaced people and the one in Damala had taken in an estimated 50,000. Many arrived at the Salesian centers injured and in desperate need of medical attention. While the situation has improved and many have left the shelter of Salesian centers, the situation remains precarious. Those still internally displaced are homeless and have no other source of shelter and food other than what’s provided at the centers.
“For a few years, Salesian missionaries have been working to provide educational and support services to youth in need as well as a growing population of those who were internally displaced by war,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Resuming educational and social development programs helps youth regain a sense of normalcy and allows them to move past the violence and focus on more productive activities.”
The funding raised through the campaign so far has been utilized to help training resume at the centers allowing youth who have been affected by the war to return to school. Generators have been provided for the school and vocational training center in Damala and an accumulator system was installed to prevent power outages. Funding has also been utilized to support the purchase of educational materials, footwear, clothing and basic food products, and 110 scholarships were awarded for youth to access professional training.
In addition, Salesian missionaries have repaired all of the damage that was done in the school, the vocational training center and youth center during the war caused by shootings, explosions, assaults and by the presence of thousands of refugees that were accommodated there. Salesian educational staff were also able to access addition training to provide psychological support for children affected by war. Working to meet a local need, missionaries also used some of the funding to start a new training course for taxi and delivery drivers who are in great demand within the country.
The support received also helped in the training of all the educational staff and in providing psychological assistance for children affected by war, and it was possible to offer a new training course for drivers of vehicles who are in great demand in the country. The Salesian center in Damala has an orphanage, youth center, professional center and high school. At the center in Galabadja, Salesian missionaries offer primary and secondary education along with a college and professional training program. A youth center and medical clinic are also available.