No child in the world should be denied the opportunity to get an education, strive for a better life, and achieve personal fulfillment. But in some places, that truth is easier said than done.
One of those places is Zimbabwe, a country in southern Africa where poverty is high and educational opportunities are meager for most people. It’s just the kind of place where a Maryknoll Sister is likely to be found, doing her best to help others do their best.
Sister Chiyoung Pak, M.M., a native of Korea, has been working in Zimbabwe for the past 20 years. In the town of Norton, about 25 miles from the capital city, Harare, she runs a program called the Norton Youth Center. The Center serves young people between the ages of 11 and 22, divided into school-age “juniors” (ages 11- 17) and older “seniors” (17-22). Sister Chiyoung and the staff work to provide these children with access to skills and knowledge they will need to move their lives forward, and not become caught in an endless cycle of poverty.
“Youth who go to school attend the Saturday program and participate in computer lessons, storytelling, life skills lessons and brain games that aim to mold them and motivate and ensure a healthy development into adulthood.”
Because of many factors, including scarcity of funds, the Norton Youth Center has had a challenging history. In 2012 it was evicted from its original location, and had to suspend operations while a new space was sought.
“Without the Center, the children had no place to get any kind of education,” says Sister Chiyoung. “I can’t forget the disappointed look on their faces when it closed. I wanted to see them look happy again.”
It now shares space with the St. Padre Pio Poly Clinic, serving between 50 and 65 young people at a given time. Classes and programs are held both indoors and outdoors.
“I still have the dream of having our own center,” Sister Chiyoung says. “It will support more students.” Your generosity can help that dream come true!
In the meantime, the Center’s needs are practical and attainable. Funds are needed to provide food for the children, who often get their only true meal of the day
at the Center. Supplies, including computers, need to be purchased and maintained. The students also receive medical care and transportation when needed.
With your offering and your prayers, these children can continue on their path to better lives… a path that has been closed to them for too long.
For a special Easter “tent card” click here. You can place the card on your dinner table at Easter Sunday. When you look at it, please remember the people you are helping through your prayers and generosity!