The Salesian Institute
The Salesian Institute programme gives street kids a chance to live as part of society. Young people learn how to take reasonability for themselves and others and be in charge of their own lives.
The Cape Town metropolis is home to a population of close to three million and is one of South Africa’s most important industrial centres. Other than the street kids in Long Street, the wealthy and developed touristic city centre shows no signs of poverty. In the suburbs, however, which are full of closely packed huts, poverty is everywhere.
The city does everything it can to keep beggars and in particular street kids far away from the city centre. The apparently troublesome children are gathered up by security workers and taken away.
Misuse Continues on the Street
Many children and young people living on the streets have been misused and mistreated by adults in their family environment. As a result, they display a huge amount of mistrust and fear of adults. Misuse often continues on the street because life on the street is normally even rougher than life at home. For street kids, prostitution is one of the few opportunities to earn money.
Drug use is a widespread problem among young people on the streets. They constantly use dagga (marijuana) und glue sniffing to forget life for a while or make it seem more bearable, which have disastrous consequences for their health.
School just falls by the wayside, despite the fact that education would improve the situation for the street kids of Cape Town in the long term.
A Fresh Start in Life
In the Salesian Institute in Cape Town, the Don Bosco Salesians give children and young people from the street the chance to make a fresh start. Don Bosco, as the Salesian Institute is simply known, provides the children with four interlinked programmes:
The “Learn to Live School” works with children under 16, who have either no, or only very brief experience of education, preparing them to attend school regularly. Children who have been living on the street for two or more years require help in order to play an active role in society again, such as needing to rebuild their self-esteem.
One of the main challenges for these children is to learn to trust adults again. They also have to work hard to learn how to deal with aggression and frustration. Children elsewhere are taught how to behave socially by their parents, older siblings and teachers. Such role models are lacking on the street, as are educational skills such as reading, writing and arithmetic.
Technical Skills Centre
The “Technical Skills Center” is aimed at young people and adults aged between 16 and 25. They can choose to do vocational training in the areas of metalworking, leather production, joinery, masonry and car body construction.
Alongside technical abilities, these courses put a major focus on social competences, in order to prepare participants for professional life. Former street kids find it extremely difficult to get used to the daily work environment, for example cooperating with authoritative figures and working with colleagues. Here it is also essential that they learn how to tolerate frustration and correctly deal with aggression.
As a result, the workshop leaders are selected not only according to their manual skills, but also their educational suitability.
During their training courses, the young people produce items that they can sell in the market, such as handbags, book spines and wallets. They are allowed to keep the profit after the material costs have been deducted.
The School of Life
The “School of Life Programme”, simply known as the “Hostel”, is a hostel for street kids who have decided to turn their back on the streets. The first contacts are established by street workers, who approach the boys on the street. They then participate in a four-week-long introductory camp, which prepares them for life in the hostel. These children face a challenge far harder than that faced by the younger children because street behaviour is even more ingrained in their lives.
Life in South African society does not suddenly become easy for participants that successfully complete the programme. Problems of society, particularly poverty and unemployment are still present everywhere. Nevertheless, the former street kids now have the skills that they need to counter this situation