(MissionNewswire) The Salesian Youth Ministry, located in the city of Manaus on the banks of the Negro River in northwestern Brazil, recently implemented a project to collect and donate school supplies for 320 children and older youth in need. This is the second year the Salesian Youth Ministry has facilitated this project to great success.
The initiative was carried out at the beginning of the school term because many of the school supplies needed for the classroom are expensive and many poor families cannot afford to purchase them. Basic school materials were collected and distributed to children of the communities near the Shrines of Mary Help of Christians, Queen of Peace and St. Hedwig of Silesia, and other nearby locations. An event was held to distribute the school kits to the children. The event also included games and songs and preventative health activities including dental check-ups. Parents were also able to receive training in parenting and other educational lessons.
The Salesian Youth Ministry has also prepared a series of educational activities, which began in March, to help children and older youth in public schools. These are facilitated by students who attend the Federal University of Amazonas and the University of the State of Amazonas and include educational lessons in the Portuguese language, mathematics and biology.
“The gap in opportunity between rich and poor continues to be very wide in Brazil, even with government efforts,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Salesian missionaries are seeing that youth who are already at a social or economic disadvantage fall even further behind because of a lack of access to quality education. Initiatives like these ensure that all students have the school supplies they need to fully participate in their coursework and are prepared at the start of the new school year.”
Brazil has one of the strongest economies in Latin America and is an important agricultural and industrial power in the region. Just over 15 percent of Brazilians live in poverty, with the majority living in the rural northeast of the country, according to the World Bank. While Brazil is making positive changes, there are still large gaps between the poor and the rich and issues of income inequality and social exclusion remain at the root of poverty.
Inequalities also exist in access to education and educational efficiency. These inequalities are greatest for children and youth who are poor, live in rural areas or who have an incomplete compulsory education. Salesian missionaries working with poor youth and their families in Brazil develop programs and provide youth opportunities for furthering their education and skills.
UNICEF – Brazil Statistics
UNSCO – Statistics in Brazil