COLOMBIA: New center increases support for youth in need
New Salesian youth center in La Cecilia district serves more than 100 youth
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries have opened a youth center in the La Cecilia district of Armenia, Colombia. Armenia is at the center of the Colombian coffee growing axis. The new youth center has served more than 100 youth to date and focuses on educational and pastoral support.
The Salesian youth center was developed in response to a call to launch initiatives that respond to the needs of youth in the area. Many of these youth come from poor families and have few resources. At a Salesian educational center in Armenia, youth already take courses in welding, cooking, tailoring and hairdressing. The new center expands the educational support youth are able to access through tutoring and extra help with their studies. It also provides a space for youth to connect with their peers.
“This new youth center broadens the scope of Salesian support in the region,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Youth now will be able to access recreational activities, sports, cultural activities, and school, psychosocial and family support. One of the goals is to start addressing some of the addiction and delinquency issues in the region.”
The work of Salesian missionaries in Colombia is internationally recognized. 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 give poor youth hope for a better life.
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Salesian Missions – Colombia
World Bank – Colombia