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BOLIVIA: New center serving youth with disabilities holds groundbreaking ceremony

Don Bosco Popular Schools Network laid foundation stone for new school building serving youth with disabilities


(MissionNewswire) Don Bosco Popular Schools Network laid a foundation stone for a new building for the Centro Virgen Niña Association, which is part of the network. The funding for this project was provided by the Swiss Salesian organization Jugendhilfe Weltweit and fundraising efforts of the network staff.

Centro Virgen Niña Association is a special education center located in the city of El Alto, Bolivia, that serves many children and adolescents with disabilities. It was founded by Sister Grazia Micaelli and is run by a group of Bolivian lay people. The center started its activities 28 years ago with six children. Today, it serves 189 children and older youth.

The center focuses on human, social and educational development of children and families within the community. The new building was needed because the older building had architectural barriers that hindered people with disabilities who go to the center. The new infrastructure will consist of four floors with several classrooms and training workshops, administrative rooms, bathrooms, and corridors with ramps and steps to access the upper levels.

After demolishing the old infrastructure, the new construction began on April 6. The ceremony was attended by the staff of the Centro Virgen Niña Association, the staff of the Don Bosco Popular Schools Network and the staff of the DyCOC construction company.

Manuela Quenta, director of the network, said a prayer of thanks to all the people who contributed to making this project happen. She also asked for the safety of the workers and the successful completion of the work, while adding thoughts for the children who will benefit from this center and see their dreams begin to take shape.

“Children living in poverty with a disability are even less likely to attend school when compared to their peers,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Youth with disabilities have the same ability to achieve as their peers if given the opportunity. Salesian missionaries in programs around the globe initiate projects that pave the way for advanced research, learning and innovation that aid inclusion of people with disabilities.”

Bolivia is the poorest country in South America and has the most unequal income distribution on the continent. It is common for Bolivians to struggle to find adequate nutrition, shelter and other basic necessities. The geography of Bolivia contributes to the overwhelming poverty of its residents. Large swaths of the country remain undeveloped with a lack of roads and infrastructure.



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