COLOMBIA: Children in poverty have healthy nutrition thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (March 9, 2022) The Youth Services Organization, located in the headquarters of Bosconia, in the Los Martires area of Bogota, Colombia, was able to provide food service for more than 60 children and older youth each day thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco.
The children and older youth, ages 5-18, live in extreme poverty with their families or are homeless. They are at a higher risk of facing child labor, sexual exploitation, constant homelessness, food insecurity, limited adult supervision, family violence, and illegal activities.
To help carry out the nutrition project, Salesians established an agreement with Bogota’s Archdiocese Food Bank to guarantee availability of the required food products. The health and nutrition team from Bosconia also monitored the children and assessed them for good health and malnutrition.
Roleidys, age 11 and one of the recipients of the project, would go hungry due to extreme poverty. She spent many hours on the streets and was exposed to dangerous conditions. She is also a victim of family violence by her guardians.
When the Youth Services Organization arrived in her Santa Fe neighborhood, Salesian staff were able to connect Roleidys to the Bosconia program. Once she was welcomed into the home, she accessed shelter, good nutrition, protection, and an environment that offered her the warmth, care, and the assistance she deserves. Since entering the program, Roleidys is no longer hungry and has a team of people around who love and support her.
“Every child deserves a warm meal and a safe place to sleep at night,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “We are grateful for our donors for ensuring that children who are homeless and living in extreme poverty have access to the nutrition they need for good health and to focus on their studies.”
Just over 34 percent of Colombians are living below the poverty line. Although Colombia is among the world’s emerging economies, more than three out of 10 Colombians still live in poor conditions. Colombia is also the world’s seventh most inequitable country.
One in five children in the country has no access to education. Many orphaned youth live in poverty and have lost their parents to natural disasters, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and other diseases, war or domestic issues. Some children remain living with a single parent, struggling to survive, and are often pulled out of school to earn income for the remaining family. Other youth live in shelters or on the streets.
By providing education, workforce development services and social programs across Colombia, Salesian missionaries help to give poor youth hope for a better life.
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