ARGENTINA: The Salesian educational project Tejiendo Lazos (Weaving Ties) at the Don Bosco Oratory is providing youth a second chance for a better life
(MissionNewswire) The Salesian educational project, Tejiendo Lazos (Weaving Ties), at the Don Bosco Oratory in Santiago del Estero, Argentina, has made a significant impact on the lives of youth in the region. The program changed the life of Victor, now 23 years old, who began at the Don Bosco Oratory in 2013 after friends who were also participating in the Tejiendo Lazos project encouraged him to join.
Víctor was born in Santiago del Estero and lived with his parents, his grandmother and five brothers. There was no lack of affection in the home while growing up but daily life was not easy. The family lived in poverty and the lack of money forced him to sleep on the ground. Victor wanted to help his family but as a child, did not have many opportunities to do so.
“I was a rebel and behaved badly,” recalls Victor. “I came home late. Sometimes I went out and did not come back without telling my parents. Also, communication between my brothers was challenged. We could not even sit down at the table because we looked at each other badly.”
At the time, education was not a priority in Victor’s life but once Victor discovered the Don Bosco Oratory, that changed. Through his friends, he got to know the Salesian missionaries operating the oratory and once he entered into the program, he did not want to leave.
“My life has changed and they make me feel at home,” says Victor. “Fernando called me and made me one of the group.”
Victor speaks with gratitude for the Salesian missionaries who helped him on his journey. He recalls Father Julián Arroyo and the coordinators, Mario and Daniela. Together with many other collaborators, they support the project which organizes snacks, guitar lessons, a bakery workshop, sports and educational meetings daily.
There are more than 80 boys and girls who participate in this educational project. Among them are those from remote villages such as Quimilí and Campo Gallo. Víctor is currently studying to become a hairdresser and eventually wants to become a chef to fulfill his dream of opening his own business. He knows he can do it.
“Thanks to the oratory, today I think of a future for myself and for my family,” says Victor. “The oratory has changed me a lot as a person. They look at me with different eyes. I am surprised at the treatment they give me. Here they make me feel at home. I haven’t forgotten my past, but I love what is happening to me. My life has changed.”
Salesian programs across Argentina are primarily focused on education. Salesian primary and secondary education in the country prepares youth for technical, vocational or university study. Other programs help meet the basic needs of poor youth and their families by providing shelter, proper nutrition and medical care, helping youth to engage in their education and have hope for the future.
More than a quarter of the people in Argentina live in conditions of poverty with no formal employment and poor-quality education, according to the World Bank. The country’s high school dropout rate is close to 37 percent and youth account for a third of those unemployed. Almost 12 percent of children aged 5 to 17 are working instead of in school and 20 percent need government assistance. Many face malnutrition, a lack of clean water and sewage and inadequate housing.
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World Bank – Argentina