BRAZIL: New shelter welcomes Indigenous homeless youth
Salesian missionaries in Iauaretê open new shelter for Indigenous homeless youth
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries in Iauaretê, Brazil, have opened a new shelter for Indigenous homeless youth. Salesians will welcome children and teens who are alone and abandoned to ensure that their basic needs are met and they receive access to education.
The Salesian mission of Iauaretê consists of a central missionary district which comprises the St. Michael Archangel parish and 11 chapels. However, the work of the Salesian missionaries extends over a far greater area, reaching 40 Indigenous communities made up of 16 different ethnic groups. Missionaries place particular emphasis on their work with adolescents and children in the communities. Every day, the local Salesian oratory welcomes 300 to 500 children who seek out a healthy protective environment.
The new shelter will house those in need of a safe place to stay. The structure has seven single rooms for Salesian staff and guests, two large dormitories that can each house 30 children, a refectory with a capacity of up to 40 children, a kitchen, pantry, laundry, community room and room for activities. Each room will have an internal bathroom and the dormitories will have two bathrooms each. Outside there will be space for youth to play and have fun with their peers.
Father Roberto Cappelletti, who is responsible for the Salesian community, said, “As soon as I arrived here in February 2015, I immediately realized the precarious housing situation in which the Salesians had been living for the past 10 years. An attic covered with zinc sheets with temperatures reaching 40 degrees during the day, an environment infested with bats, mice and spiders, where no human being deserves to live. In addition to this, as I learned about the reality little by little, I perceived how many boys and girls, who already normally live in unstructured families, without a decent home, were left to themselves.”
The Salesian community is working to provide education in a region of Brazil that is closed off to the outside world both in culture and in geographic borders. This new shelter is another step in ensuring that youth have what they need to access education and learn skills for employment to better their future and also help their community.
The project took five years to complete from inception to final construction. Mission Don Bosco and other benefactors helped provide the financing for the project. Fr. Cappelletti also thanked Carlinhos Dias, the project’s operational manager.
Salesian missionaries in Brazil provide education, workforce development and social services throughout the country and specifically focus on children with disabilities within several programs. Missionaries help to meet the basic needs of poor youth, including street children, and provide them with an education and life skills to gain employment, break the cycle of poverty and lead productive lives.
According to the World Bank, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on Brazil with poverty tripling in 2021. Nearly 17 million people have fallen into poverty in the first quarter of the year and the poverty rate now is higher than it was a decade ago. Researchers estimate that 12.8 percent of Brazil’s population, some 27 million people, are now living below the poverty line.
Issues of income inequality and social exclusion remain the root causes for those in 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. Salesians working with poor youth and their families in Brazil develop programs and provide youth with opportunities for furthering their education and skills.
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Salesian Missions – Brazil
World Bank – Brazil