Author: Salesian Missions

Publication Date: April 02, 2024

EL SALVADOR: Youth receive laptops, bicycles thanks to Salesian Missions

Donations distributed to youth in Salesian programs by Laura Vicuña Pro Education Foundation.

NEW ROCHELLE, NY (April 2, 2024) Youth in Salesian programs in cantons of Tonacatepeque, El Salvador, received bicycles thanks to a donation from World Vision secured by Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. The bicycles, distributed by the Laura Vicuña Pro Education Foundation, were given to 120 boys and girls. In addition, 163 others, including siblings and mothers, will benefit from the bicycles. Also included in the shipment from another donor were laptops to enhance the children’s education.

The bicycles will serve as a means of transportation to go to school, take corn to the mill, carry water jugs and to have fun with neighborhood friends. To distribute the bicycles, an athletic competition was held for youth in the age categories of 8-9 years old, 10-12 years old, and 13-15 years old. Competitions were held separately for boys and girls for each age group. The winners received the bicycles.

Nikol Margarita Galdamez, age 9, said, “At first I didn’t want to compete, I was afraid that others would beat me. In the second round, I went for it and won.” Another winner, Oscar Leonel López, age 11, explained, “The bike is too big for me, but I can reach it and I can ride it. I am very happy!” One young girl, René Larios Mazariegos, age 9, expressed her joy, “I always dreamed of a bike.”

Salesian missionaries and sisters in the region are caring for children who are often from broken families. In March 2022, President Nayib Bukele introduced a national Exception Law in El Salvador that suspended certain civil liberties. While the law was enacted to bring security as the country has faced high homicide rates due to street gangs, it’s estimated that nearly one in six people the police have arrested are innocent and due process has been suspended.

A Salesian explained, “As a result of this law, many families are left without a father or mother and in some cases both parents. Today the affected children live with their grandparents and the older ones dedicate themselves to the agricultural activities that their parents left behind. Before, people in cantons, hamlets and cities did not have the freedom to travel or visit families from one region to another. After almost 20 years of living with the presence of young gang members, today activities that were previously blocked can be carried out. The Laura Vicuña Pro Education Foundation has started activities to unify work forces with project management groups made up of women from rural areas who work for their local communities.”

Close to 22% of El Salvador’s population lives in poverty, according to the World Bank. Youth in El Salvador are confronted not only with poverty but with instability, high levels of violence and inadequate access to educational opportunities. Despite ranking high for economic indicators, the need for practical education in El Salvador is more important than ever with 12% of youth ages 15-24 unemployed and 41% underemployed.


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