The 8th July, 2020, was a glorious day for Don Bosco Vocational Training Center Palabek when Honourable Hillary Onek, the Ugandan Cabinet Minister in charge of Refugees launching the Face Mask project said, “Don Bosco has pioneered in Face Mask production and have been very innovative not only in the Palabek Settlement, but also in the whole of northern Uganda and the nation.”
The same thought was reechoed by Mr. Charles Uma, the Chief Administrative Officer of Lamwo district.
Mr. Uma also said that, ‘when the Lockdown was declared in Uganda on 18th March 2020, he received a generous supply of Face Masks from Don Bosco for the district’s use’.
“It is not an exaggeration to say that with very limited resources we started producing masks and did free distribution to the refugees and community workers such as police, army, local leaders and medical workers.” Father Lazar Arasu, Director of Don Bosco Palabek revealed.
Though Don Bosco VTC has been distributing masks for three months, it was Yesterday that UNHCR officially launched the Face Mask Project for refugees and the host community.
The event was graced by the Minister and participated by UNHCR top officials and several leaders of the region and Lamwo district.
Everyone unanimously wanted the event to be held at Don Bosco VTC as it pioneered in the production and the school facilities were used for the project and production done by Don Bosco vocational trainees.
Madam Felicitas Nebril, Regional head of UNHCR seeing the productivity of the refugee skilled tailors said, “This activity is a best example of refugees involving in socio-economic activities, you have taken to heart the motivation given by others and have put into productive use, it is the best way of returning to normal and you have come forward to contribute to the welfare of the refugees and the local communities.”
She added that “You have indeed become a model to the host community.”
She also encouraged the refugees to use the mask and keep maintaining the zero status of COVID infection.
To date, a group of 20 girls has successfully produced at least 10,000 face masks of different shapes and sizes. Refugees continue to produce more and distribute them free of charge.
In his speech the Minister Onek said, “The eyes of Don Bosco Missionaries have been sharp to see the needs and challenges of people; when the government did not budget for masks for the refugees you stepped into the production. And doing it in our district and in this new Training Center, you have made us proud.”
He thanked the Salesians for bringing this vocational training center to the extreme end of the country, when this place had been abandoned for several decades.
He expressed his confidence that the Vocational Training Center will produce able trainees both refugees and the locals and bring peace and harmony to the area.
During this Lockdown period, when the schools and youth centers have been closed, the Salesians who live and work in Palabek are busy in COVID 19 related activities.
Salesians are grateful to Don Bosco Jugendhilfe Weltweit (JuWe) the main service partner and other local supporters Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, CESVI, Trocaire, AVSI, and LWF for the material and logistic support.