Salesian Missionaries in Nigeria Facilitating
Rehabilitation of Street Boys in Lagos
The U.S.-based development arm of the Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB), Salesian Missions, is facilitating the rehabilitation of street boys in the West African nation of Nigeria.
In their Tuesday, February 9 report shared with ACI Africa, officials of the Catholic agency are offering funding to support the members of SDB at Don Bosco Child Protection Center in the Archdiocese of Lagos, which is home to at least 25 former street boys.
“The center provides care for boys, aged 7 to 15, who were living on the streets, had faced physical abuse in their homes or were rescued from child trafficking,” SDB officials have said in the report.
The funding from Salesian Missions facilitates “tuition and skills training, counseling and psychological care, medical care, and clothing for the boys,” the leadership of the New York-based agency has reported.
Some of the funding is also used “to support the operational expenses of the center for such items as fuel, internet access, stationery and toiletries,” they add.
“Many youths are living on the streets in Lagos and fighting to survive” because of “the high rate of domestic violence, child abuse, poverty and negative environmental influences,” the officials of SDB entity say.
On the streets of Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous city, many of the young people who “have been denied the opportunity of proper parental training, family love and even education” turn to “crime, drug abuse and other risky behavior,” SDB officials further note in the report.
“Because Lagos is a major city, there are many youths who come looking for greener pastures including some who have run away and think they will find work and money,” the Director of the Don Bosco Child Protection Center, Fr. Augustine Okeke has been quoted as saying in the February 9 report.
Making reference to the young people, Fr. Okeke adds, “Once they get to Lagos, they realize they have nothing and end up living on the streets. We help them by creating a family for them so they feel loved and supported. They have a safe place to live and gain an education and skills.”
Through the Don Bosco Child Protection Center, SDB members support the young people by removing them from the streets, giving them access to education and skills training, and instilling hope for a brighter future.
The rehabilitation of the street boys starts with members of SDB visiting them “in their own environment (on the streets)” and offering them moral and psychological support, the Salesians say in the report.
In subsequent contact with the street boys, members of the St. John Bosco-founded Religious Institute collaborate with a rescue team comprising police officers, the child protection officers, welfare and the court officers, to take these youth to the Center.
“Once youth are in the Don Bosco Child Protection Center, they are provided counseling, skills training and daily support. The goal is to help prepare them for the next stage of life,” officials of SDB note.
They add, “Family reunification takes place later if it is possible. Salesian staff work with the family and each boy to help reintegrate him into family life and then follow up with the family to ensure that all is well and address ongoing challenges.”
Established in 2014 by SDB leadership, the Lagos-based Don Bosco Child Protection Center has a mission of working through the principles lived by St. John Bosco in order to ensure security, good health, education and skills development of children at risk, by focusing on their integral transformation, creating a home for the victims of poverty.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa