BRAZIL: Salesian missionaries repairing school attended by 128 students in remote Marauià village
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries operate a school in Marauià, a small village overlooking a tributary of the Rio Negro deep in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon forest. The area is populated by the Yanomami, one of the ethnic groups that lives within the Amazon. Salesian missionaries have been assisting this population for 100 years, ever since missionaries first arrived in this inaccessible and unexplored region.
The school in the village was built in 2011 but was seriously damaged in 2017 by a hurricane. After almost two years of immense difficulty, Salesian missionaries are now working to renovate the building to give the 128 elementary to middle grade students attending a better school environment. Currently, students are divided into three shifts – morning, afternoon and evening – to be able to accommodate all of them.
A new project, backed by the Salesian Mission Office (Missions Don Bosco) of Turin, Italy, is providing the funding to enable Salesian missionaries in Marauià to renovate the school roof which was torn apart during the 2017 hurricane, and reinforce the foundation, floor and exterior facade. The project is making the school safer for the students and is meaningful for the community.
“Attention to ethnic minorities is a fundamental element of the Salesian mission and is more than ever in the limelight because it was chosen as a topic of reflection for the special assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region,” explains Salesian Brother Giampietro Pettenon, president of Missions Don Bosco. “Supporting the project of this small school means guaranteeing a better future for the young Yanomami who are future custodians of the Amazon.”
The Amazon today is the home of 1 million indigenous people who are divided into close to 400 tribes. According to data from the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), 63 percent of indigenous people live in Brazil and out of the 400 identified ethnic groups, close to 100 are the most fragile who have chosen to live in complete isolation. Salesian missionaries support them through education and formation, but also by concerning themselves with the protection and appreciation of their culture.
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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