In Montevideo, Uruguay, where city streets are riddled with senseless violence, Salesian missionaries have vowed to remain among their people -- despite great risks to their own lives.
The Marconi quarter of this capital city -- called the “Red Zone” by locals -- is a place so prevalent with drugs and violence that not even the police dare venture there. And, due to this lack of basic security, most social service providers have fled, leaving thousands of at-risk youth with no hope for the future, and little chance to escape.
This is why -- just like in other dangerous and turbulent places around the world -- our Salesian missionaries have refused to abandon the city.
In fact, explains Father Rubén Avellaneda, director of Don Bosco Vocational School of the Tacurú Movement, “We have decided to double our capacity in order to better address the vast needs of the community. Families have been adamant in their desire for more opportunities -- for education, job training and supportive community activities -- in order to drive out the drug dealers and the despair.”
On June 4, 2016, Fr. Rubén and his fellow missionaries opened a new youth center called Tacurú House. Activities offered there will complement those of the school, where hundreds of students currently pursue three-year programs in carpentry, electricity, culinary arts, hairdressing and more.
In recognition of the new Tacurú House, community members made a banner expressing their gratitude to the Salesians and hung it for all to see: “We thank the teachers who continue their lessons, even with the risks they face!”
Essential services such as transportation, sanitation and education are slowly being restored. Despite the dangers that remain on the streets of Montevideo, the Tacurú Movement marches on. The Salesians remain regardless of the risks they face, continuing to provide the community with a sense of optimism and renewal in an area known for its violence and despair.
Our missionaries remain in the most dangerous areas around the globe to give the people hope and sanctuary. They provide opportunity for a better future. What’s your mission?