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New building completed - Yangon skills training centre

Your support is helping build new futures for young women across Myanmar. Thanks to your support for the people of Myanmar, and the journeying of Catholic Mission staff alongside the Salesian Sisters in Yangon, the lives of countless young women and girls will be changed for the better.

September 2019 saw the official opening of the new Entrepreneurship Skills Training Centre in Yangon, Myanmar. The new three and a half storey building is fully equipped to provide professional training in hospitality and food management. Run by the Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco, the residential, vocational centre is providing young girls and women at risk with a home and employable skills, so that they can create secure and dignified futures for themselves and their families.

The primary objective of this project was to improve the wellbeing of young women and girls from remote villages who have not been able to finish school, are at risk of being abused or exploited for labour, or are victims of the civil war in the northern part of Myanmar.

Girls classroom

Girls engaged in a lesson in one of the classrooms in the new building.

The sisters have been providing this service for many years, but recently needed assistance to construct a new, purpose-built facility that would allow for their growth and continued operation.

With your support, that of Catholic Mission Australia and the perseverance and patience of the Salesian Sisters in Yangon, we are proud to report on the successful completion of this project.

The end result is a modern, safe, and well-appointed facility, which will enable the education of many girls and young women, giving them entrepreneurial and vocational skills that meet the growing demands of local employers and will serve them for life.

Impact in numbers

  1. Young women ​safe from abuse or exploitation​
  2. Past students employed in the sewing production centre
  3. Salesian Sisters living and serving in the new building

Chapel new building

The chapel inside the new building provides a space for worship and contemplation.

The new building includes separate living quarters, kitchens and laundries for the residents and the sisters; practical teaching rooms; classrooms; a chapel; a sewing production room; room for guests to stay; and offices for key staff.

The girls and young women who come to live with the Salesian Sisters in Yangon are originally from all across Myanmar. Half of them have not completed high school, which makes it extremely difficult for them to pursue employment or live an independent life.

Since coming to live in Yangon, the residents report that their horizons have been broadened and the opportunities they now see for their lives are both more diverse and more achievable.

Welcome ceremony

Residents perform for guests, welcoming them to the new centre.

Safe from the threat of abuse or a life of exploitation, these young women’s lives are being enriched in many ways beyond their vocational training.

Not only do they have the chance to participate in a holistic education that covers ethics, Catechism and formation lessons, basic English, art, music, dance, sewing and budgeting, but they are also able to grow together through social activities, such as the Salesian Youth Movement and group bible studies.

Finished dormitory

The dormitory provides residents with a safe place to call home.

This project may have come to a close, but the work of the Salesian Sisters in Yangon continues at full pace.

The sisters are looking to the future with enthusiasm and energy as they start to plan the next steps for the vocational training centre and work to ensure its sustainability.

Having set-up a laundry on the third floor/rooftop of the new building, the sisters are planning on providing commercial laundry services as one of the means of generating income.

With a large office block (that includes accommodation for staff) just across the road from the new building, the sisters are strategically placed to make the most of existing business opportunities. At the same time as generating income for the school, the laundry business will provide residents with the opportunity to learn this useful skill and take it with them when they look for employment in the hotel and hospitality industry.

Third floor laundry finished

Part of the third-floor laundry in the new building.

As one of the major elements of the vocational training offered at the school is cooking and catering, the sisters are looking to start up a catering business, mainly servicing local Catholic events. The students from the centre who are studying hospitality and food technology will be responsible for planning, cooking and serving food for events. Once again this has the two-fold benefit of generating funds to help sustain the school and providing the students with opportunities to apply what they learn from the sisters in real-world settings.

Finally, the sisters are in negotiation with the Archdiocese of Yangon to open a cafe or small kiosk at the city‘s cathedral, which would be staffed and supplied by the students and graduates of the vocational training centre. A popular tourist destination in the heart of the city, St Mary‘s Cathedral in Yangon is an ideal location that would provide the cafe with a steady and reliable market.