(MissionNewswire) At the start of the new school year, the Salesian Foundation, Chicos de la Calle, located in Quito, Ecuador‘s capital city, provided 921 children new backpacks filled with school supplies to support them in their education. Before the backpacks were presented there was a summary of school support activities carried out in the past year by the Salesian Foundation and the students it supported. In Quito, 986 student benefited from the foundation’s activities with 835 of these students successfully completing the previous school year. In addition, 93 students left school for various reasons while 49 will have to repeat the same grade this year.
The Salesian Foundation offers a diverse array of programs and services for local youth both living on the streets and those living in poverty with their families. The aim is always to support youth to stay in school and gain an education. The educational material provided in the backpacks allows students to be ready for the new school year with all the supplies they will need including notebooks, pens, paper and other educational materials. From early in the morning through the afternoon, hundreds of children and older youth arrived at the foundation’s campus, accompanied by their families and teachers.
“The provision of school kits is a result of the commitment of those who made it possible, so that children and young people can grow, learn, play, and build an environment, a family and a decent society, as they are taught values and given a chance in life,” says Father Francisco Sánchez, director of the foundation, who was in attendance while the backpacks were being handed out.
The beneficiaries of the initiative will be attending the following schools this academic year: workshops of the San Patricio School; the San Patricio commercial Unit (UESPA); the GOL program in the Dominic Savio, Mi Patio and Don Bosco Schools; the Acción Guambras project in La Marin, Amazonas, Pisulí and Iñaquito; the Mi Caleta School and the public schools of Amaguaña.
One of the benefiting programs is the Salesian Foundation’s Acción Guambras, which actively works to bring youth in off the streets and provide them shelter and an education. Street educators, who engage in outreach efforts to locate street children and build trust with them over time, invite youth to participate in the program, which provides education and social development services while meeting basic needs such as housing, food, clothing and school supplies. Participants are also offered tutoring and assistance reintegrating back into school.
Ecuador is one of the most inequitable societies in the world, according to UNICEF. The richest 20 percent of the population receives almost 50 percent of the national income, while the poorest 20 percent receives only 5 percent. According to the World Food Program, almost 26 percent of all children under age five have stunted growth, increasing to 31 percent in rural areas and 47 percent in indigenous communities.
Violence, especially toward young people, is high in the country. Homicides are the second leading cause of death among young people and the primary cause of death among young women. Instances of physical abuse and domestic violence happen frequently and are often not properly handled by local law enforcement agencies. In addition, a high percentage of youth engage in drug use and are at-risk of falling prey to criminal activity and gang violence.
Close to 20 percent of Ecuador’s population are people of indigenous heritage. For poor, rural and indigenous youth, education provides the best opportunity for finding employment, reducing inequities and breaking the cycle of poverty. Salesian missionaries have been providing education and other social programs for disadvantaged youth across Ecuador for more than 125 years.
UNICEF – Ecuador
(Photo courtesy ANS)