Salesian Youth Projects Feel the Effects of Covid-19 on Vulnerable Learners
The Salesian Institute Youth Projects (SIYP), an NGO working with youth from at-risk communities in Cape Town in the field of education and skills training, has witnessed the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on learners firsthand. The Learn to Live School of Skills caters for youth aged 14-18 who can no longer cope in mainstream schooling.
“Since our learners come from socioeconomically marginalised communities, the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic has been particularly evident. The ongoing and uncertain opening and closing of schools during this pandemic has brought much confusion and disruption to our learners, with emotional effects that we do not yet fully comprehend”, said Salesian Father Patrick Naughton, CEO of SIYP.
To determine some of these effects, learners were asked to write a short essay on how the pandemic has affected them so far. The results were sobering if unsurprising.
“As the virus started spreading, more people died, it is so sad. My mom lost her job, so there was no income and no money to buy food and make sure our family was OK. So as the firstborn, I must try and make a plan, but I don’t know how?” said a 14-year-old learner.
A 17-year-old said: “Covid-19 has become something very important in our lives. It is very dangerous, and I am depressed about this pandemic. None of my family members contracted the virus so far, and that makes me very relieved. My oldest sister lost her job and financially we are not coping so well. We have to ration our food and are struggling to make ends meet. This pandemic has changed our lives.”
The most pressing need throughout the country is for food. In response to this, SIYP secured some funding which enabled them to provide food to the learners’ families on a biweekly basis: a small step towards assisting these families in need.
SIYP further supports learners with transport fares, to enable parents to send their children to school with no further financial burden. In addition, three meals are provided to the learners while at school, consisting of breakfast, a sandwich at teatime and a cooked lunch.
“The psycho-social support we offer is of vital importance. The Learn to Live school has a fulltime social worker on site, tending to learners’ psychosocial welfare: she is definitely seeing signs of additional strain”, said Fr Naughton.
The pandemic has revealed a need for additional support and funding to enable SIYP to provide a holistic solution to our vulnerable youth in need during these challenging times.
Go to SIYP web page to donate.
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