Vienna (Agenzia Fides) – Currently there are about 30 million children in the world who have been abandoned to live on the street, victims of drug traffickers, exploiters of child labour and prostitution, according to UNICEF's estimates. The Countries most affected by this phenomenon are those in Latin America and Central Africa, but the number of abandoned children is also high in many countries of Eastern Europe. The phenomenon has also spread to the Caribbean island of Haiti, following the earthquake that struck on 12 January, 2010, where many children have been orphaned or have lost contact with their families. Faced with this situation, the Austrian Salesian NGO “Jugend Eine Welt” (JEW), will celebrate the “Day for street children”.
The Salesian Information Agency says that the initiative includes both awareness and information about the problem, and fundraising for the children of Haiti. The NGO has prepared several educational and multimedia proposals, suitable for dissemination in schools and parishes, which are designed to raise awareness among European children and adolescents about the reality of many of their peers.
Among the materials available are testimonies about the lives of street children, tips for education comparisons on the theme, some prayers and meaningful songs. Awareness-raising activities this year also have the contribution of two testimonials: the Auxiliary Bishop of Vienna, Bishop Franz Scharl, and the Chief Executive Officer of “JEW”, Mr Reinhard Heiserer. The two committed themselves to working one day as boot cleaners, in solidarity with the millions of children who can not attend school and are forced to work in this way. This year the main commitment of “JEW” is to the youth of Haiti, where the organisation's volunteers are working with the Salesians to reopen the schools as soon as possible which were damaged or destroyed by the earthquake. A project has already achieved the reconstruction of the Salesian school in the district of Citè Soleil, among the poorest in Port-au-Prince. The building, which was completely destroyed by the earthquake, has been rebuilt and will soon provide education to approximately 600 youth aged 3 to 12 years. (AP) (31/1/2011 Agenzia Fides)