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COLOMBIA: Don Bosco Center Relaunches Successful Pacto Motor Program

(MissionNewswire) The Don Bosco Center in Ciudad Bolivar, one of the most dangerous areas of Colombia’s capital city of Bogotá, recently relaunched their Pacto Motor’s programs. The program is made possible through Salesian missionaries’ collaboration with the District Secretariat for Economic Development of the City of Bogota. Pacto Motor, which relaunched in June, offers educational opportunities and employment for young people affected by the armed conflict in Colombia and other situations of vulnerability.

Many families living in Ciudad Bolivar came to the city to escape the armed conflict between paramilitary groups and revolutionaries operating in Colombia. Many continue to arrive in the city with little education and few chances for employment or a stable future. More than 15 years ago, Salesian Father Jaime García recognized a need for job skill training for youth in Bogotá and expanded the Don Bosco Center to offer professional and vocational education. In addition, Salesian missionaries made connections within the local labor market to help youth transition from the classroom directly into employment.

During the 2014-2015 school year, more than 900 students were engaged in professional training courses at the Don Bosco Center. In 2010, Salesian missionaries became aware of a need for skilled labor for the automobile and transport industries while noting that youth from Ciudad Bolívar were often rejected in the employment selection process. Salesian missionaries identified a gap between the professional needs of these industries and the lack of education in these fields for youth seeking employment.

As a result, Pacto Motor was inaugurated in 2013 at the Don Bosco Center offering a professional degree course in automotive mechanics. More than 150 youth, or 98 percent of Pacto Motor’s first graduating class, found employment after successfully completing the program. As a result of the Pacto Motor program’s success, the Colombian Ministry of Labor is using the Salesian training model to develop additional pilot projects focused on employment industries in other cities in Colombia.

“The Pacto Motor program at the Don Bosco Center has been a great success,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “The program is a win-win for both the automotive industry and youth living in poverty. The automotive sector has access to well-trained technical staff and youth have access to free high-quality training that leads to stable employment.”

Close to 33 percent of Colombians live in poverty, according to the World Bank. One in five children in the country have no access to education and 800,000 children reside in refugee camps. The number of street children has reached epidemic proportions and thousands of at-risk youth have been recruited as child soldiers.

Many orphaned youth in Colombia 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.

Neglect, discrimination and malnutrition affect orphans more often than their non-orphaned peers. Research shows that orphans are more likely to live in conditions of poverty, be forced into child labor, recruited as child soldiers and subjected to exploitation and violence. Orphaned youth are also less likely to be enrolled in school.



ANS – Colombia – Hope for vulnerable young people: the Pacto Motor project

World Bank – Colombia

Salesian Missions – Colombia

*Any goods, services or funds provided by Salesian Missions to programs located in this country were administered in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control.

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