Salesian Missions Announces '3 Millionth Child' Mark Just as Obama Inauguration Speech Underscores Need to Reach Out to 'People of Poor Nations', Sheds Light on Kenya

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Obama's inauguration represented the giving nature of America, reaching out to struggling countries around the world. Salesian Missions programs are in more than 130 countries around the globe, and have reached more than 3 million youth over the past six decades.

Salesian Missions programs support over 12,000 youth in 2,000 in communities throughout Kenya through vocational training, education and other essential programs including the successful Bosco Boys program.

President Obama's words rang very true and near to our hearts here

The Inauguration of President Barack Obama comes just as Salesian Missions has announced its programs have now helped 3 million children and counting -- including 160,000 in Kenya, where the president has family ties.

The swearing in of the first African American president of the United States, has placed Kenya and its people in the international spotlight. The son of a white woman raised in Kansas and a father raised in Kenya, President Barack Obama embodies the multi-cultural nature of America and its people. In his inaugural speech, Pres. Obama also represented the giving nature of America, reaching out to struggling countries around the world.

To Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions -- headquartered in New Rochelle, NY, -- it was if the president was speaking about his organization and their work around the globe.

During his speech, President Obama said, "To the people of poor nations, "we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds."

"President Obama's words rang very true and near to our hearts here," says Fr. Hyde. "Reaching out and working alongside people in the poorest communities around the world is what we have been dedicated to for more than 60 years, and now we are proud to say that we have reached the 3 millionth child mark. But we could not do it without the financial support of millions of people around the United States."

In fact, the Salesian Missions programs are in more than 130 countries around the globe, and have reached more than 3 million youth over the past six decades. Even more impressive, the international programs have been made possible by the generosity of more than 5 million Americans.

Programs include agricultural and trade schools, feeding programs, disease prevention and other technical training and education that helps youth learn to help themselves and increase the capacity of their families and their communities.

"We teach youth how to help themselves," says Fr. Hyde. "This is why our focus includes education and vocational training."

Obama's ability to reach out to youth and young adults is also something that speaks to the work of the Salesian Missions around the globe.

"We work with an age group that is too often forgotten by other aid organizations or the communities in which they live," adds Fr. Hyde. "They are no longer young children, nor are they adults. They are caught in the middle of childhood and adulthood which is the most vulnerable age, especially in the poor communities we serve."

One of those such places around the globe is Kenya, which is getting special attention due to Pres. Obama's ties to the nation. The president's grandmother, "Mama Sarah Obama" was widely reported in the news during her voyage from Kenya to Washington D.C. The Boys Choir of Kenya also traveled to the nation's capital to take part in the inauguration celebration. On inauguration day, live video was broadcast around the world from Kogelo, Kenya, showing traditional dancers entertaining crowds filled with jubilation. MTV even showcased a Kenyan village during its live inauguration bash.

But, what happens when the cameras leave?

"The work we are doing in Kenya was there long before the current media focus," says Jaime Correa, international programs director for Salesian Missions, "and it will be there for years to come."

Additionally, the Salesian Missions does not focus just on the village where the new U.S. president's father was born, but other locations around Kenya that are not the focus of media attention and celebration.

In Kenya, Salesian Missions provides programs in Kakuma, Embu, Makuyu, Nzaikoni, Korr, and Nairobi. These programs are currently serving more than 12,000 youth in Kenya. About 350 youth are receiving educational services in an Embu technical school and more than 2,000 in communities throughout Kenya. In total, 160,000 Kenyan youth have been served.

"A great example of our work in Kenya -- and around the globe -- is our Bosco Boys program," says Correa.

"The objective of Bosco Boys is to reduce problems affecting vulnerable youth in Nairobi. It persuades street boys to leave the streets and voluntarily get rehabilitation at the center where they learn to live with others and as part of the larger society," says Correa.

The center supports the youth by providing food, housing, counseling and education to help them lead normal lives. Nearly 2,000 street youth have been rehabilitated and educated since the center's inception. Currently, 9 boys are in various universities, 17 in secondary schools, 265 in primary schools and 64 are employed at various companies. About 30 youth are currently at the rehabilitation unit in Utume center waiting to join Bosco Boys. And this is just one example of thousands of programs around the globe.

Fr. Mark adds that he does hope that the current focus on Kenya will not completely fade away and is hopeful for the future of America and the poor countries Salesian Missions serves around the globe - noting how Pres. Obama included a call to action in his inauguration speech:

"To those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it."

Related President Obama Speech Excerpt:
"To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it."

  • President Barack Obama during his inauguration speech, Jan. 20, 2009

About Salesian Missions:
Salesian Missions is headquartered in New Rochelle, NY. The mission of the U.S.-based nonprofit Catholic organization is to raise funds for its international programs that serve youth and families in poor communities around the globe. The Salesian missionaries are made up of priests, brothers and sisters, as well as laypeople - all dedicated to caring for poor children throughout the world in more than 130 countries, helping young people become self-sufficient by learning a trade that will help them gain employment. To date, more than 3 million youth have received services funded by Salesian Missions. These services and programs are provided to children regardless of race or religion. To date, more than 5 million Americans have contributed financially to this work. For more information, go to http://www.salesianmissions.org.

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Hannah Gregory
SCG Public Relations
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