Author: Salesian Missions

Publication Date: February 07, 2023

Embracing New Beginnings in Ecuador

Born in Ambato, Ecuador and growing up mostly on the streets, young Álex never understood what it meant to be loved. Traumatized by abandonment and scarred by abuse, he only knew how it felt to be hungry, exhausted and alone—until he arrived at the Don Bosco Farm.

Originally established in 1996, this Salesian-run sanctuary offers abused, homeless and otherwise at-risk youth a healthy alternative to living on the streets. Working in partnership with local law enforcement who refer juveniles to the program, the Don Bosco Farm provides respite, rehabilitation and the chance for family reunification or—when that isn’t possible—adoption into a stable home.

At the age of 14, Álex fled the poverty and abuse he suffered at home in a desperate attempt at a better life living on the dangerous streets of Ambato. His parents had abandoned the family’s dirt house, leaving him and his three older siblings to endure the beatings his grandmother gave them on a daily basis. But life on the streets was not much better. With no bed to sleep in, no shoes for his feet, and no adult to protect him, he could only focus on one thing—survival.

Still, “I never stole a single thing,” he recalls proudly.

Fortunately, the police intercepted Álex before his own desperation led him down the road toward crime—taking him instead to the Don Bosco Farm. Today, under the caring guidance of Salesian missionaries, this now 17-year-old is flourishing.

“At the Don Bosco Farm, children recover part of their lost childhood,” says Father Timothy Ploch, interim director of Salesian Missions. “They receive love, medical and psychological care, and the chance to go to school.”

“On the street I was cold but here I have the things I never had at home—a warm bed, food, clean clothes and shoes,” Álex adds. Motivated to achieve something better in life and fueled by an innate sense of compassion despite his early traumas, this young man now dreams of attending college and becoming an agricultural engineer—an interest cultivated during his rehabilitation therapy and hands-on learning experiences on the Don Bosco Farm. He enjoys taking care of the animals and working on his small plot of land, where he grows beets and cilantro to sell at the local market. He’s even saving up money to put toward his future education.

More than that, he’s taking the love he found at the Don Bosco Farm and shining its light out into the community, so that others don’t have to experience the desperation he faced.

“I like to help others and participate in sewing workshops, help in the kitchen, and serve as an altar boy … I want to be like Don Bosco to help people who have less,” he explains.

What a remarkable success story!

Learn more about our work in Ecuador.

Our mission keeps Don Bosco’s vision alive by rescuing vulnerable children and giving them the opportunity to become self-sufficient adults. What’s your mission?

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