There is a saying from the Bible which appears in the Book of Proverbs: “Train a child in the way he (she) should go and even when he (she) is old he (she) will not depart from it.”
This quote shows how even though so many things have changed over the course of history, so many things still stay the same. Even in ancient times, adults still knew how important it is that children need to be shown the right path in life . . . that every young person needs to be guided.
Recently, I received a letter from Fr. Dioscoro Malugao — a Missionary of Africa priest who lives and works in Kitwe, Zambia, in southern Africa. There Fr. Dioscoro directs the Twatasha Youth Formation Target Program for children and young people who are in real need of help in learning how to survive living on their own and caring for themselves.
Zambia, like other countries in Africa, has high unemployment. This together with the impact of deadly diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, typhoid, as well as the impact of AIDS, results in the early death of many adults. In some cases, most people in Zambia will not live beyond age 43. Because of the short life expectancy, nearly half of the people in Zambia are only 16 years old. It is a nation where children are desperately needing guidance on how to survive.
“Our goal,” Fr. Dioscoro writes, “is to support vulnerable young people and help them
realize their potential in society. We are doing this by teaching them vocational skills which will enable them to become self-reliant . . . to think, act, support and care for themselves.”
“We have a number of training programs underway,” Fr. Dioscoro continues. “We have begun raising broiler chickens and growing vegetables as well as teaching carpentry and metal fabrication. Our aim is to help these young people transform themselves, to live on their own. But because we are in a very poor region — and the young people we are helping have no money — any income we generate is not enough for us to cover the costs of the program. We need outside financial assistance.”
The need among children and the youth continues to be a critical throughout Africa. Whether related to education and job training, or healthcare, or for basic living necessities such as food, water, clothing and shelter.