Donated Tools Build Hope for Migrant Youth
Growing up in Venezuela hadn’t been easy for young Francis—and it’s no wonder. Pummeled by skyrocketing inflation and the country’s relentless economic crisis, he and his family struggled just to eat most days. Getting an education, finding stable work, and earning a livable wage were three dreams that were just that—dreams.
Like the vast majority of Venezuela’s population—more than 80 percent right now—Francis lived in abject poverty exacerbated by rising social and political unrest. That unrest has further led to chronic shortages of basic necessities, including food and medicine, that keep families poor and create a vicious cycle of inescapable despair.
“It’s not too difficult to understand why millions of desperate people have already fled the country,” says Father Timothy Ploch, interim director of Salesian Missions. “Conditions in Venezuela have created a refugee crisis whose enormity recalls what was happening in and around the Mediterranean in 2015. Just as they did then, our Salesian missionaries throughout Latin America are doing whatever they can to help.”
This includes Peru, where Francis and his entire family fled to just over three years ago. After enduring a period of homelessness, they found their way to the Don Bosco House for Migrants and Refugees in Magdalena, Lima. Established to assist some of the more than 400,000 Venezuelan nationals who have arrived in the country within the past year alone, the Don Bosco House provides temporary accommodations and other social support to help people get on their feet.
Francis now lives in a dedicated part of the Don Bosco House reserved for migrant youth who are enrolled in Salesian-run schools. Where once he couldn’t dream of brighter opportunities, he is now studying to become an automotive mechanic—an opportunity enhanced by a partnership between Salesian Missions and the Atlanta, Georgia-based ASAP (A Self-Help Assistance Program).
ASAP volunteers collect used hand tools and power equipment, and refurbish, bundle and send them to vocational training programs throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. These tools help instructors by offering hands-on learning opportunities, as well as help graduates entering their chosen profession by equipping them to succeed. In 2022, ASAP donated tools that are benefitting 1,400 youth in seven different Salesian-run schools in Peru.
“This partnership truly has a measurable impact,” says Fr. Tim. “In many cases, the equipment they donate would be difficult for Salesian schools to find and for students to afford—which can impact hands-on learning opportunities. Now, young people like Francis have access to, and can learn how to use, the latest tools that will fully prepare them for future work—and empower them to break the cycle of poverty that they and their families are trying so hard to escape.”
Juan Pardo, coordinator at the Don Bosco Foundation, agrees. “Francis has been doing well in his studies and had been borrowing basic tools while saving for his own. After learning about the opportunity to receive donated tools, he applied for the program. Now that he and his classmates have their own tool kits, he has become more motivated to complete his studies so he can get a higher-paying position. This will allow him to support his family.”
Learn more about our work in Peru.
Our mission empowers impoverished youth with vocational training and the tools they need for meaningful work and sustainable futures. What’s your mission?