Peru faces high levels of income inequality and has more than a quarter of its population living in poverty, according to the World Bank. Poverty levels are significantly higher in rural areas but urban areas struggle most with inequality, most notably metropolitan Lima. Poverty in the country is made worse by a shortage of productive farmland and a lack of job skills among women entering the workforce, as well as a lack of adequate housing, nutrition and education.
Peru has also been plagued by hunger and disaster. According to the World Bank, close to 25 percent of children in the country are chronically malnourished.
Salesian missionaries working in Peru have provided life-saving support and education to poor youth and their families through the years. They also helped with rebuilding efforts after the 8.0 earthquake in August 2007, which killed more than 500 people in the central coastal cities of Chincha, Pisco and Ica and injured hundreds more.
The Association of Damas Salesianas has been working to address the needs of children and their families in Puerto Chalaco, a district in the city of Callao, a major seaport in Peru. The Salesian-run organization, founded in May 1968 by Father Miguel González, is providing programs in 23 countries. In Callao, the association has a house caring for children and providing youth with a space that is peaceful and quiet allowing students to effectively think and do their homework. Above all, the house provides a chance for youth to be around caring adults who support them and help them with their school work and other needs.
Also in Callao, Salesian missionaries operate the San Juan Bosco Children’s Home within the community of Puerto Nuevo. The Children’s Home facilitates the Children of Lead project which is supported by the Don Bosco in the World Foundation and serves more than 80 youth from the area who have high levels of lead in their blood.
Puerto Nuevo’s population is contaminated by lead as a result of the environmental damage generated by the storage and transportation of lead ore to the community’s port. Most of the children participating in the Children of Lead project have levels of lead close to 19.9 micrograms per deciliter in their blood. This level is considered highly dangerous and can cause children to suffer cognitive delays.
Salesian missionaries who operate the Children of Lead project provide education and skills training opportunities to the participating children and adolescents while addressing their behavioral and cognitive difficulties. Often because of their cognitive and emotional difficulties, these students struggle in traditional classrooms and are less likely to achieve the higher levels of education necessary to break the cycle of poverty. The project provides specially trained staff to work with the students and also provides the expertise of a psychologist on staff.
The Children of Lead project aims to improve students’ educational outcomes through tutoring in reading, math and other academic subjects while simultaneously offering workshops in interpersonal communication, logic and educational psychology. Activities that include music and dance are also offered through the project and are designed to boost participants’ physical, mental and emotional development. In addition, participants have access to computer classes using online programs and games that help them develop reason and literacy as well as useful technological skills.
Each year, more than 120 youth have access to technical skills training thanks to a Salesian training center that opened in Loreto among the Kandozi Indigenous community in San Fernando in the district of Andoas. The Yankuam Jintia Training Center for Intercultural Education was developed by the Don Bosco Foundation to meet the needs of poor youth living in the Peruvian Amazon.
One of the challenges facing Salesian missionaries in Peru is creating opportunities for youth after they graduate from secondary school but are unable because of finances to pursue further education and training. To address this, Salesian missionaries are providing more technical and vocational training so youth are able to learn a skill and have access to long-term stable work that allows them to provide for their families and give back to their communities.
The training center seeks to improve the living conditions of indigenous families of the Achuar, Kandozi, Meztizos and Quechua ethnic groups in the Amazon. Youth are trained to be mechanics for outboard engines, as well as carpentry, agriculture and animal husbandry. Upon completion of a program, they are able to contribute to the development of their communities and to create resources through the provision of services to third parties. Youth reside in the Salesian boarding school and attend the four-month training modules of the Intercultural Education Center.
In addition, Salesian missionaries in Peru have worked to improve the standards for technical education and opportunities for youth around the country, and in particular, at the Salesian-run SALESTEC Institute. Each year Salesian missionaries hold a large education, technical and business Congress.
The Congress is attended by various companies in Peru that are working in strategic alliance with the Salesian Institute. Participants are able to receive information in the areas of electrical energy, electronics, production mechanics, car and motorcycle mechanics, welding and more. Companies have the opportunity to meet highly-trained youth between 18 to 35 years old who are ready to put the technical skills they learned at the Salesian Institute to work in real world environments.
Salesian missionaries at the CETPRO Santo Domingo Savio Technical Center in Lima provide training for young people with disabilities. They have also launched an awareness campaign to bring more attention to the abilities of those living with a disability in the country. According to the National Council for the Integration of People with Disabilities, about 1.5 million Peruvians have some kind of disability. That means nearly 5 percent of the total population lives with some limitation in moving, seeing, feeling, understanding and communicating.
The CETPRO Center houses hundreds of young people and provides a family home for youth and an oratory that welcomes both boys and girls. The Center works in cooperation with the Don Bosco Foundation of Peru and the Share Campaign of the Peruvian Episcopal Conference to train youth with special educational needs. Through this campaign, several young people with sensory disabilities benefit and are being successfully trained in screen printing and tailoring laboratories.
In addition, in coordination with specialists from the Service of Support and Consultation for the Care of Special Educational Needs (SAANEE), a seminar was organized for all CETPRO students to raise their awareness of the great efforts that their disadvantaged peers put forth to gain an education and how they face and overcome to achieve their goals. All students have been encouraged to show respect, tolerance and a willingness to help their peers who have different skills and to collaborate with them.
Devastating flooding caused by extreme weather since the start of 2017 has caused landslides in cities across Peru. According to the Associated Press, more than 500,000 people have been affected with thousands left homeless after a series of storms struck the country in the last few weeks. At least 115,000 homes have been destroyed, roadways are impassable and 117 bridges are reportedly washed out.
Peru is highly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change and the effects of intense rains that can cause flooding and landslides in the country. In the city of Piura, the sewer drainage system has been completely destroyed as a result of the flooding. Weather like this, coupled with the destruction of the drainage system, can be a breeding ground for disease and health complications for its residents. Salesian missionaries living and working in Piura, one of the hardest hit areas, are already responding to those who need assistance and are seeking funding to launch a project aimed at providing preventative health information as well as materials and supplies.
Salesian missionaries working at schools and youth centers in the regions near Piura provided close to 900 families with prevention education about these diseases. The information includes the dissemination of key messages that promote basic hygiene practices and the adoption of healthy habits. This work also helped communities strengthen their capacities to adopt operational measures to safeguard against dengue, malaria, diarrheal diseases, respiratory infections and dermatological problems, among others. Salesian missionaries also provided food and other basic supplies to families in need.
Salesian missionaries in Lima have launched a new program to assist the many migrants who are fleeing from Venezuela. BBC News reports that tens of thousands of Venezuelans are fleeing their country because of chronic shortages of food and medicines. Since 2014, millions of citizens have left Venezuela given the country’s longstanding economic crisis. Surrounding countries are struggling to accommodate the influx of people needing support, shelter and assistance.
UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, has warned that the continent faces a refugee “crisis moment” similar to that seen in the Mediterranean in 2015, according to a BBC article. UNHCR is in the process of setting up a special team to coordinate a regional response.
Peru is already home to nearly 400,000 Venezuelan migrants, most of whom arrived in the past year. Salesian missionaries in Peru are working to set up accommodations and programs to help migrants integrate into their new communities.
Salesian missionaries have also utilized an unused wing of the Salesian College in Lima as a reception center for Venezuelan youth. The center current accommodates 52 young men aged 18 to 25 years old.
Father José Valdivia, the provincial economer of Peru, is in charge of the center. After working a long day on accounting activities, he joins these young men who are all returning from working 10-12 hours of labor and are sitting down to dinner. Fr. Valdivia stays with them after their meal and encourages them, and counsels those who are having a difficult time.
Salesian missionaries in Breña, a district within the capital city of Lima, facilitate a project each year known as Sol Bosco. This program provides educational lessons and a safe space for youth to enjoy time with their peers and develop skills and expertise in various disciplines. Youth can access skills training in courses such as guitar, cooking, martial arts, soccer, volleyball, basketball, handicrafts, and traditional and modern dance.
Youth from the Salesian parish of Mary Help of Christians kicked off the program in 2017 by going from house to house in Breña announcing that the program had started. As a result, more than 100 children are registered to participate. The workshops are offered by older youth that are part of the Salesian Youth Movement.
In addition, the Don Bosco Home for Troubled Youth, located in Calca, was able to improve the condition of its facilities thanks to Salesian Missions donors. Funding was used to renovate a dilapidated part of the home and included the addition of a storage area and the repair of a previously unsafe basketball court and recreation area. Sports and recreation are an important part of Salesian programs, providing youth a chance to connect with their peers, gain team building skills and have fun in a supportive environment.
The Don Bosco Home is part of the larger Red de Casas Don Bosco initiative which serves hundreds of children and older youth, offering them a home, food, education, and spiritual and psychological support. Red de Casas Don Bosco includes 11 boarding homes in the cities of Ayacucho, Arequipa, Cusco, Huancayo and Lima (Breña and Rímac) as well as the Cusco Alto Andinas missions including Ampares, Calca and Quebrada Honda.
Salesian missionaries in Breña, a district within the capital city of Lima, have a provincial house, Salesian College, Superior Institute and Technical Vocational Center, and a house for homeless youth. Missionaries also operate the Mary Help of Christian’s parish, which provides communal meals for the elderly and sick residents of Breña. Every day, from Monday to Friday, people come to enjoy the afternoon meal at the Salesian parish. For some it’s the only meal they have each day.
There are 18 different groups of women that prepare the meal each day. The groups take turns finding the food, often collecting donations door to door, and then preparing and serving the meal. Others come to talk and interact with those who have come to rely on the parish workers for their nutrition. For some volunteers, it’s a chance to give back to their community and to stay busy and connected. Fernando Soto used to accompany his wife, Esther Arce, from house to house to collect food. She has since passed away, but he continues his mission, with the task of running the dining room.
Meals provided to the sick and the elderly improve their health, mood and overall well-being. In addition, people are able to speak with Salesian staff and access other services as well as stay connected within their community.
Salesian missionaries with the Don Bosco Foundation of Peru launched a free medical, surgical and dentistry clinic in the city of Piura, in the northern part of the country. The free medical and dental assistance began with the help of 14 medical and dental professionals who are part of ULYSSES, a humanitarian organization providing professional medical assistance.
The city of Piura was chosen because it ranked poorly for health conditions and access to medical and dental assistance. The area is the main producer and national exporter of organic bananas, mangoes, lemons, grapes and other products like coffee, but even still, more than 35 percent of the city’s residents live in poverty. The medical clinic was also made possible through support from the Regional Government of Piura, Diresa, the Naval Station of Paita, the City of Paita, the Terminal Port Euroandinos, the Stella Maris Institute of Lima, the Salesian Institute and the Food Bank.
Eighty surgeries were performed during the medical clinic and more than 100 people accessed free dental examinations. Dentists also provided free oral health education to more than 1,000 school children in the region. During the presentations, students received free toothbrushes and toothpaste. Since 2005, Salesian missionaries have been offering similar medical clinics in Peru to improve the quality of life for people.
Offering these free medical and dental clinics is nothing new to Salesian programs. Salesian missionaries offer more than 200 medical clinics and hospitals, mostly in rural areas, that handle a wide range of medical care needs.
Salesian missionaries in Peru run an oratory for more than 300 young children, older youth and mothers from the city of Cusco, a city in the Peruvian Andes, and the surrounding area.
Home to a wealth of history, stunning architecture and Machu Picchu (one of the Seven Wonders of the World), Cusco and the surrounding area is a popular tourist destination. Close to 1.3 million people reside there locally with almost 25 percent of its population under the age of 15. Salesian missionaries are very active in the region through schools, missions, shelters, a nursing home and oratories.
This region of Peru is also home to a successful Salesian agriculture program. Although the area is difficult to access, coffee and cocoa are cultivated in the Yanatile valley and the nearby basin of the river Lacco. The Salesian mission in Quebrada Honda is made up of the parish of Mary Help of Christians and the Experimental School for Agriculture and Livestock which educates more than 160 students, nearly half of whom board at the school.
The goal of the School is to provide young farmers with a basic education as well as advanced studies in the latest agricultural practices and modern technologies while moving towards efficiency in farming by exploring and testing new techniques in agriculture, horticulture, floriculture and animal husbandry. The School provides both classroom education and hands-on agriculture and livestock training on a working farm on the school campus. Salesian missionaries at the School hope the agriculture degree program will entice more local youth to choose agriculture as their long-term livelihood.
Date Added: May 3, 2016
Date Added: May 3, 2016
Total cost for all equipment and installation = $54,518.00
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