COLOMBIA: New project aims to keep youth safe from mines
Project will provide education to 150 families so they can protect their children
(MissionNewswire) The Salesian Mission Office in Turin, Italy, has launched a new project at Don Bosco City in Medellín to keep youth safe from mines in Colombia. Youth often go into abandoned coal mine tunnels to extract minerals that their families can use for money and in the process are risking their health and their lives.
Youth have become accustomed to walking through abandoned tunnels or digging new, very narrow tunnels where only they can fit. Along with the risk of severe health consequences and danger to their lives, half of the school-age children are no longer going to school, leaving one in five to become illiterate. Girls are the most affected.
A Salesian missionary noted, “It is not enough to take boys and girls away from those labyrinths, to give them hospitality and education. It is necessary to act on a far-reaching economic mechanism that calls for a change of a cultural nature.”
The project will focus on the mining area of Sinifaná, where the main economic and livelihood source is coal mining, and in the cities of Amagá and Angelópolis, where mining has been part of families for generations. The project aims to impact 150 families by providing education so they can earn a living another way and protect their children.
Don Bosco City is one of the oldest and largest programs for street children in Latin America. Since its start in 1965, the program has rescued more than 83,000 boys and girls. Through the program, Salesian missionaries offer a multi-pronged approach designed to address the broad social issues that contribute to the poverty and exploitation these youth face while training them in the skills necessary to break the cycle of violence and poverty. Currently, there are 900 youth between the ages of 8-12 living and receiving education at the program.
The work of Salesian missionaries in Colombia is internationally recognized. Just over 34 percent of Colombians are living below the poverty line. Although 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.
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Salesian Missions – Colombia
World Bank – Colombia