CHILE: Don Bosco Foundation’s Raúl Villarroel Day Center suffers fire which destroys entire building that provided services to the homeless
(MissionNewswire) Don Bosco Foundation’s Raúl Villarroel Day Center in Valparaíso, Chile, suffered a fire on Aug. 8, which damaged the entire structure. The center opened seven years ago to assist the homeless. None of those at the center were harmed during the fire. The fire also burned several donations of food, toiletries and personal protective equipment.
More than 30 people attend the center each day, accessing hygiene services and meals. The center was also a place of refuge for people to meet in a safe environment. Staff helped the homeless with social integration and provided support for their daily needs. During the pandemic, the center installed safety measures so staff could still provide food, hygiene kits and personal protection products.
“Our entire staff and those we serve have been impacted by this fire,” said Carlos Aravena, director of the Raúl Villarroel Day Center. “In the afternoon after the fire, we spent time tidying up and cleaning, awaiting the assessment of material damage. It’s unknown right now how much time it will take before we can get back to providing services to those in need like we once did.”
The fire is still under investigation. Don Bosco Foundation will soon launch a fundraising campaign to rebuild the building and restore essential services to people who live on the margins of society.
Salesian missionaries in the region provide primary and secondary education as well as vocational skills training so poor youth are able to gain the skills needed for employment. In addition, families can access Catholic services and have a communal place to meet and connect with their friends and neighbors.
According to the World Bank, Chile has a fairly low poverty rate of 14.4 percent. However, Chile struggles with high rates of income and education inequality. Salesian missionaries working in Chile focus their efforts on providing education and social services to poor and 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.
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Salesian Missions – Chile
World Bank – Chile