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CHILE: Don Bosco Foundation Reopens Building Damaged by 2010 Earthquake

(MissionNewswire) On January 24, the Don Bosco Foundation in Santiago, Chile officially reopened a building that was destroyed in the February 2010 earthquake that affected more than 2 million people and killed close to 300. The building is utilized as a coordination and service hub for 11 Don Bosco Foundation programs.

Salesian Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, Archbishop of Santiago, and Father Alberto Lorenzelli, Salesian Provincial in Chile, joined in the reopening celebration along with representatives of the more than 600 current beneficiaries of the Foundation’s programs. Teachers, administrators and families were also in attendance.

“Renewing the infrastructure means giving dignity to our work with children, young people and vulnerable adults,” said Carmen Gloria Soto, coordinator of development, during the opening events at the Don Bosco Foundation. “It is a very delicate task because our programs help young people with addictions and those living on the streets as well as their families. For us, the reopening is very important because we are carrying out a mission to serve marginalized youth and the appropriate infrastructure to carry out those programs is critical to our success.”

The Don Bosco Foundation began offering programs for the homeless in Santiago more than 15 years ago. Responding to a rise in the homeless population in the city, Salesian missionaries created programs to meet the basic needs of the homeless while providing opportunities for education. Partnering with other local social welfare programs, the Foundation’s programs serve both adults and children living on the streets. Educational programming includes vocational and technical training to help those in need find and retain stable employment.

Once homeless participants connect with the Foundation, they are provided shelter, nutritious food, clothing, medical care and an education. Counseling and recovery services are also offered. To date, more than 15,000 children and adults have accessed services at the Foundation.

In addition, the Foundation distributes close to 2,000 meals every month for those in need. Specifically targeting street children, the Foundation has the biggest and most comprehensive program in the country providing shelter to close to 120 homeless youth each month.

According to the World Bank, although the economy in Chile is one of the more stable and prosperous in Latin America, a little more than five percent of the population live on just two dollars a day. The country suffers from high economic inequality which is particularly evident in access to educational opportunities.

Salesians working in Chile focus their efforts on providing education and social services to poor, at-risk youth. At Salesian schools, universities and youth centers throughout the country, youth can access an education as well as the skills and resources necessary to break the cycle of poverty. As a result of the vocational and technical education provided by Salesian programs, Chilean youth are more likely to find stable employment and improve their standard of living.

“Although the education system in the country is far-reaching, many poor and disadvantaged youth fall through the cracks,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions – the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Throughout the country, young people from poor families lack the educational opportunities available to the middle and upper classes.”


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