Planting Seeds of Hope in Argentina
“Dreaming big” isn’t typically something that youth in Rodeo del Medio do. In this rural agricultural community of just over 12,000 people, where employment opportunities are few, students often see little point in studying or remaining in school—an attitude that fuels the kind of prolonged demotivation that can lead to a lifetime of destructive behaviors and despair. By taking a creative approach to the problem, Salesian missionaries now offer a viable solution.
Missionaries have been serving in the area since 1901, with an established tradition of tailoring their educational, pastoral and social services programs to meet unique local needs. Escuela Vitivinícola Don Bosco, the first institution of its kind in Latin America, is world-renowned for its leadership of regional and national agro-industrial development. First established in 1965 to increase the expertise and capacity of local winemakers, and to train local impoverished youth in a relevant and sustainable trade, the school is now recognized as the birthplace of winemaking in Argentina. It continues to produce graduates capable of improving their lives, who, in turn, will contribute to the local economy, through the knowledge and skills they have gained.
Today, missionaries are applying the lessons of Escuela Vitivinícola Don Bosco to a new project designed to revive motivation and interest in education among at-risk youth. Dubbed “Germinating Young Entrepreneurs,” the program offers specific training in areas aligned with local needs and opportunities, including beekeeping, vegetable gardening, and the cultivation of aromatic plants and flowers. This program, which first began offering classes in 2018, also offers complementary soft-skills training to help youth successfully transition to the workforce and become productive members of society.
“‘Germinating Young Entrepreneurs’ is still in its infancy,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions. “But we eagerly anticipate witnessing the positive results of this innovative project by our fellow missionaries in Rodeo del Medio. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if it becomes yet another model vocational training program celebrated throughout the world.”
Additionally, Salesian missionaries in Rodeo del Medio offer pre-school, primary, secondary and higher education, as well as operate a parish and youth center.
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