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BRAZIL: Salesian missionaries are building new home for children faced with family violence in remote region of Iauaretê

(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries, in collaboration with Italian volunteers and Mary Help of Christians, and led by Italian Salesian missionary, Father Roberto Cappelletti, bring hope and education to those living in Iauaretê. The community is located in the deep western part of the Brazilian Amazon at the border with Colombia and is one of the farthest and most difficult missions to reach. Iauaretê is far away from everything, including institutions and critical services like hospitals and health centers.

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 there extends over an area far greater, 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.

For many people, the future is uncertain because there are no factories, no university for advanced education and no work. School is only available up to the age of 17 and then those who want to study further must leave the area and go to São Gabriel or Manaus.

One of the biggest problems in the area is alcoholism. Although there is a very clear law that forbids bringing any type of alcohol into the indigenous areas, it is often brought in illegally. Easily smuggled in from neighboring countries like Colombia, it is the cause of escalating family violence and early death from health complications from alcoholism. With the alcohol comes Colombian drug traffickers and increased rates of family violence.

Salesian missionaries are in the process of building a new home which will act as a shelter for youth who have been abandoned or who face violence at home. Because of the remote location of the mission which normally takes three days to reach, the home will not be completed until 2020. Visitors must take a motorboat traveling up the Rio Negro and then continue toward Colombia, sailing the Rio Uaupes. Materials for the new building are also being transported by the river and then construction is completed by hand.

“Children are in need of shelter, proper nutrition, and mostly importantly, an ability to feel safe in their home,” says Fr. Cappelletti. “They need to be able to live without the fear of returning to their hut and being beaten by the adult that is supposed to be providing care for them. Living on the streets away from that family violence, they are sometimes subjected to worse. This is why we are creating a new shelter for these youth.”

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.

The World Bank estimates that about 28.6 million Brazilians moved out of poverty between 2004 and 2014. But from the start of 2016 to the end of 2017, the World Bank estimates that 2.5 million to 3.6 million have fallen back below the poverty line earning less than 140 Brazilian reais per month. Economists blame high unemployment, near 13 percent, and cuts to key social welfare programs for challenges in the country.

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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