COLOMBIA: Past pupils provide meals to street children
Past pupils from Don Bosco City start initiative to feed children living in poverty
(MissionNewswire) A group of past pupils from Don Bosco City, located in Medellín, Colombia, has developed a project to improve food access for street children. The goal is to guarantee at least one decent meal at least once a week for these youth who live in extreme poverty. Thanks to the leaders of this project, Salomón Brand and Alex Sepúlveda, other past pupils and friends have joined in to support this initiative. Their project, which has grown to 20 people, is now an example for other past pupils who want to launch projects to support those living in poverty.
Brand and Sepúlveda are among more than 83,000 youth that Don Bosco City has rescued since it opened in 1965. The organization is one of the oldest and largest programs for street children in Latin America. 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.
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 including basic education and more advanced skills training that will lead to stable employment.
“We are grateful for the efforts that Don Bosco City’s past pupils are making to pay forward the support and lessons they have learned,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “It goes to show the real value of what they learned at Don Boco City and a testament to who they are as people that they are willing and able to lead such an initiative.”
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.
By providing education, workforce development services and social programs across Colombia, Salesian missionaries help to give poor youth hope for a better life.
ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS)
Salesian Missions – Colombia
World Bank – Colombia