Salesian missionaries in Mimboman, Yaoundé, Cameroon, were able to take COVID-19 pandemic precautions and support youth finishing school thanks to funding from Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. Some of the funding went toward buying cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer for staff and students.
There are more than 1,000 students and 100 teachers between the Don Bosco College and the Vocational Training Center. Spaces within the college and center are also used on weekends for Mary Help of Christians parish and youth center. Close to 4,000 people use these spaces on a regular basis so having the supplies for ongoing cleaning and disinfecting was necessary to fight against COVID-19. Salesians were able to buy enough supplies for several months.
The local Salesian church was also regularly disinfected by a young man who works for a cleaning service at Yaoundé City Hall. He taught Salesian staff how to disinfect properly and helped purchase cleaning supplies at an affordable price.
Salesian missionaries were able to provide hand sanitizing gel for staff, students and visitors. Small containers of gel were kept in offices and classrooms. Further, Salesians were able to provide hand-washing stations with soap and water at Don Bosco College, Vocational Training Center, and Mary Help of Christians parish and youth center.
Funding from Salesian Missions also helped ensure youth could finish their education. Youth whose parents could no longer pay their school fees received financial support. The funding helped youth finish the school year and either graduate and find employment or advance to their next year of schooling.
Finally, the funding also helped support four individuals who were in dire need of medical attention. The medical issues were not COVID-19 related but without the funding the individuals would not have survived. One woman was rushed into surgery with an appendicitis, another needed life-saving medical care for kidney issues and two others were dealing with complications from hepatitis.
The pandemic created an economic crisis in Cameroon. The country has had large losses as a result of the closure of exports. Service providers, such as taxi drivers, craftsmen and traders, have been out of work. Cameroon is also challenged by the presence of Islamist terrorist groups like Boko Haram in the north, a group of secessionist armies from the northwest and Central African refugees from the east. All this affects youth who are trying to study and gain an education.
Salesian missionaries from around the globe have sprung to action and have been working tirelessly for those in need,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “In addition to direct support to families in need, Salesian centers and institutions have also supported their communities. We appreciate our donors who have helped Salesians in Cameroon with their efforts to mitigate the challenges brought on by the pandemic.”
More than 30 percent of Cameroon’s population lives below the poverty line and human development indicators remain low, according to the World Food Programme. Poverty is the highest in the Far North, North, Adamaoua and East regions. In northern regions, people are often affected by natural disasters and below-average harvests which contribute to a continuing cycle of poverty and hunger.
Salesian missionaries in Cameroon provide education and social development services to poor youth so they are able to gain the training needed to find and retain long-term employment. They in turn are able to give back to their families and communities.