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COLOMBIA: Program educates youth who worked in coal mines

170 youth strengthen skills to help them overcome risky situations


(MissionNewswire) The Salesian “Leaving Footprints” program, launched at Don Bosco City in Medellín, Colombia, has been providing education for 170 youth who once spent time in the coal mines. The program focused 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 a part of life for generations.

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. They have become accustomed to walking through abandoned tunnels or digging new, very narrow tunnels where only they can fit. Along with facing 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.

The program provided recreational activities through interactive workshops to strengthen youth’s interpersonal and social skills. The aim was to address the risks that affect the physical, emotional, social, and psychological integrity of youth so that if they were faced with a risky situation, they would have all possible resources and skills to deal with it in the best possible way.

The program also provided parents training at meetings held every two months. Family visits have also been planned to assess each household based on behavioral, family and social patterns. To date, 41 visits have been conducted.

The work of Salesian missionaries in Colombia is internationally recognized. 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.

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.



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

ANS – Colombia – Don Bosco’s footprints lead toward change

Don Bosco City

Salesian Missions – Colombia

World Bank – Colombia