Author: Salesian Missions

Publication Date: March 08, 2023

A Welcoming Home for Newly Arrived Families

Until recently, Alesio lived on the streets of Santiago, Chile with his wife and two young children. But thanks to Salesian missionaries at Casa Pinardi, all four now enjoy safe shelter … and renewed hope for brighter futures.

“Although Chile’s poverty rate is relatively low,” says Father Timothy Ploch, interim director of Salesian Missions, “income inequality there is rapidly worsening, just as it is in so many other places around the world. Many families in and around Santiago are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet, and they end up displaced with nowhere to turn. As soon as our Salesian missionaries noticed the growing numbers of people on the streets, they stepped in to help.”

Launched in August 2022, Casa Pinardi joins several similar Salesian-run homes throughout the city. Funded by the Don Bosco Foundation and operated in partnership with local governmental and social welfare agencies, these homes provide temporary housing, nutritious meals, medical care, psychosocial support, workforce training and placement services, and help with finding stable living situations. Counseling and addiction recovery programs are also available for those who may need it.

To date, these homes together have served more than 15,000 children and adults. And for Alesio, the opportunity has truly been transformative.

Like the more than seven million migrants who have fled Venezuela since 2015, he and his family sought to escape economic collapse and social unrest at home—becoming part of what is perhaps the largest migration in Latin America’s history. And, like the majority of Venezuelan migrants, they sought better lives in a nearby host country with altruistic intentions yet limited resources to handle the unexpected influx. This is where Don Bosco Foundation shines—by alleviating some of the pressures faced by the Chilean government in absorbing nearly half a million Venezuelan refugees and asylum-seekers.

At an inaugural ceremony for Casa Pinardi, the Don Bosco Foundation president Father Victor Mora thanked local Salesian missionaries and representatives from Santiago’s Ministry of Social Development and Family for their joint work “in taking care of the needs our country is experiencing today. This home is meant to be an alternative that permits families to plan their futures,” he said.

If Alesio’s family is any indication, Fr. Victor’s wish has already borne fruit. “I used to sleep on the sidewalks with my two children and my wife. This foundation has given us a hand. This space feels like a home … I am grateful to God, grateful to Casa Pinardi, which has an amazing team … from the bottom of my heart, thank you, I will never forget you,” Alesio says.

Along with Alesio and his family, there are currently 15 other adults and children staying at Casa Pinardi, many of whom are from Venezuela. Eager to contribute to their newly adopted country, they nonetheless face barriers to integration. Casa Pinardi offers an invaluable lifeline for all.

Learn more about our work in Chile.

Our mission supports displaced families so they can make a fresh start. What’s your mission?

Help now with a gift