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COLOMBIA: 85 children, youth and families celebrate

Salesians hold year-end celebration event for children and families

COLOMBIA

(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries held an event at the Salesianum House of Spirituality in Bogotá, Colombia for a group of 85 people, including children and older youth along with their families. The Care from a Distance Program provides educational and material support through long-distance adoptions of children and older youth in situations of high vulnerability.

During the year-end event, a Catholic Mass was held along with various educational and recreational activities. At the end of the day, gifts and donations were provided to the children and older youth.

“This is a wonderful end of year celebration for families in the region,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “While Salesians primary focus is on education, they know that families are dealing with so much more. This event provided an opportunity for families to enjoy time with their children in a safe and welcoming atmosphere full of celebration.”

The work of Salesian missionaries in Colombia is internationally recognized, particularly their work in Bogotá. There Salesians operate Don Bosco City, which has saved more than 1,300 youth from a life of violence. It is estimated that close to 6,000 minors are still utilized as child soldiers with thousands more having reached their 18th birthday after years of combat.

The long rehabilitation process at Don Bosco City focuses on three things youth need to learn—how to trust, to have hope for the future and to build relationships with others. Psychologists and teachers work together with youth, giving them the tools for a better future. Many leave Don Bosco City and go on to advanced education at the Salesian institutes like the Don Bosco Vocational Training Center in Cali.

Just over 34 percent of Colombians are living below the poverty line. Though Colombia is among the world’s emerging economies, more than three out of 10 Colombians still live in poor conditions. Colombia is also the world’s seventh most inequitable country.

One in five children in the country has no access to education. Many orphaned youth live in poverty and have lost their parents to natural disasters, the HIV/AIDS epidemic and other diseases, war or domestic issues. Some children remain living with a single parent, struggling to survive, and are often pulled out of school to earn income for the remaining family. Other youth live in shelters or on the streets.

By providing education, workforce development services and social programs across Colombia, Salesian missionaries help to give poor youth hope for a better life.

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Sources:

ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS)

ANS – Colombia – Care from a Distance Program of the Salesians

Salesian Missions – Colombia

World Bank – Colombia

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