Juarez, Mexico has been called “the murder capital of the world.” Escalating brutality among rival drug cartels -- combined with widespread corruption and poverty -- casts a cloud of hopelessness and despair over this city just to the west of El Paso. In a bold effort to curb the violence and bring positive, peaceful change to the community, the Salesians are creating safe havens and learning opportunities for youth.
These havens are crucial in a city where danger lurks at every corner, and where opportunity is scarce. More than half of Juarez’s children live in poverty; many are lured to the streets, where they’re susceptible to drugs and gang activity.
“There are too many dangerous areas,” says Fr. Juan Carlos Quirarte Mendez, a Salesian Missionary in Juarez. “There are no sports fields, parks or public areas. The people are discouraged.”
However, thanks to several Salesian community centers and programs, youth now have opportunities to connect with others, learn social skills and teamwork, practice managing conflict, and -- perhaps most importantly -- just relax and have fun. More than 1,000 boys and girls participate in sports, music, drama and other pursuits each day.
In attending these activities, youth enjoy healthy alternatives to drugs and violence and can begin to form a new outlook on life. They have access to positive adult role models, and opportunities to engage their minds, bodies and spirits.
In this city of almost 1.3 million people, the path out of despair and violence -- and toward a better future -- just might be paved by its youth.
Around the globe, our mission gives hope to millions of youth -- by providing the education, experience, and spiritual development they need to find decent jobs and become contributing members of society. You can make our mission your mission. Please consider supporting the work of the Salesians by making a gift today.