Salesians Missions in Palabek Refugee Resettlement Camp have offered educational sponsorship to refugee children.
Salesian missionaries living and working at Palabek Refugee Resettlement Camp in Uganda are able to provide education to refugee children thanks in part to donor funding from Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco.
Palabek Refugee Resettlement Camp is currently home to more than 56,000 refugees and asylum seekers. It was officially set up in April 2016 to reduce congestion in larger refugee camps in the northwestern corner of Uganda. Several agencies are involved in providing food and education within the camp. While some have left because of the pandemic, Salesians have remained.
Salesians offer education to refugee children in the camp. There are 100 children in primary school, 54 in secondary school and 25 older youth in the Don Bosco Vocational Training Center where they learn skills in sewing, solar energy, mechanics, agriculture, construction and hairdressing.
Salesians also run a special sponsorship program to help youth attend school outside of the camp. Many children and older youth have to walk 10 to 15 kilometers (approximately 6.2 to 9.3 miles) each day to reach the schools. The sponsorship program enables Salesians to take youth to boarding facilities outside of the camp closer to the schools. Youth are able to live and study there, as well as have access to healthy nutrition and recreational activities.
For older youth who want to learn technical skills not offered at the Don Bosco Training Center in the camp, Salesians also offer a sponsorship program. The program brings young refugees to other centers outside of the camp where they can learn plumbing, blacksmithing, driving, animal care and other skills.
Father Ubaldino, rector of the Salesian community in Palabek Refugee Resettlement Camp said, “At the technical and vocational level, many young refugees want to go out to work, they want to learn a trade, that in most cases, allows them to return to South Sudan and contribute to the reconstruction of the country, destroyed by many years of violence and war.”
“We have the case of a young girl who learned mechanics and then took a driving course. Now she returns to South Sudan and is working as a driver in an agency, with a salary of $700 per month, far above the minimum wage in Uganda,” Fr. Ubaldino added. “We are very grateful to our donors who have helped many children and young people make the dream of a good education come true, allowing them and their families to live a more dignified life.”