(MissionNewswire) Uruquay has managed to decrease its poverty rate by almost half since 2007 when the World Bank estimated that 25 percent of the population was living in poverty. Today, the poverty rate is close to ten percent with the majority of poor residents concentrated in rural towns and villages.
Most of these poor, rural citizens do not have the financial resources or education and training necessary to find and maintain stable employment. Running a profitable business venture or maintaining a small farm with access to the national and international markets is increasingly competitive and remains out of reach, especially in households run by women alone. The majority of rural poor are those most often engaged in non-agricultural activities.
In addition to a lack of education and employment opportunities, access to affordable housing is a concern for many poor families in Uruguay. Many do not have the resources to purchase homes or land to build on, and schools are often so far away children cannot attend.
A Salesian initiative called Ñande which means, “one of us” in the Guarani language, brings together technical experts who provide resources and expertise to Salesian programs in Uruguay. As of this month, the initiative has provided 13 houses for families in the Manchego neighborhood of Montevideo. Ñande works in collaboration with the Salesian Province of Uruguay, a Salesian program called the Tacurú Movement, the Municipality of Montevideo and the Ministry of Housing.
The technical experts working with Ñande provided the resources and expertise to find the homes. Students with the Tacurú Movement made up the workforce, fixing up the homes and land, and The Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment with the Municipality of Montevideo financed and coordinated the work.
“This was possible because everybody did everything that could be done to make the plan a reality,” said Diego de Angelis, director of Ñande, during the inauguration of the houses.
The organization aims to continue its work with the goal of providing 28 more homes for families living in the same area.
“The Salesians know this work cannot always be accomplished alone,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Salesians are working within communities so they see the need first hand and know the local resources available. They then are able to bring everyone together to work towards a common goal. A project like this takes the combined initiative of local residents and businesses, non-government agencies and the government.”
Approximately 18,000 children living in rural areas of Uruguay cannot afford tuition and live too far away from a school to access an education. In these remote regions, students are able to attend Salesian schools for secondary education and agricultural training. School is free of charge and nearly 1,600 students attend. One such school, the Tacurú Movement’s, Don Bosco School of Arts and Crafts, provides training and education as well as offering social service programs.
World Bank – Uruguay