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CUBA: Salesian Missionaries Provide Educational Workshops and Youth Center in Camagüey

(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries have been working in Camagüey, Cuba, a city of 300,000 people located in the eastern region of the country, since 1917. There have been no religious or private colleges in Cuba since the 1959 revolution, but Salesian missionaries focus their work with youth through the local Salesian church parish. Three Salesian missionaries oversee the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity parish, three chapels and the 24 rural communities they visit weekly.

Through the local parish, Salesian missionaries provide educational courses and workshops in subjects like English language, computer science, marketing, digital sound production, music recording, theater and crafts. Even though the official scholastic titles are granted by the government, a diploma is awarded at the end of the course. In addition, Salesian missionaries also operate a youth center, which is open to youth from the nearby neighborhoods. They can engage in sports, connect with their peers and learn about Salesian teachings.

“The approach with young people takes place through workshops, weekly training meetings, moments of sharing, retreats and summer pastoral camps,” says Father Miguel Ángel Fernández, a Salesian missionary in Camagüey. “Despite the historical and political situation in the country, Salesian missionaries are living and working among the country’s young people.”

The Salesian also provides other services to the local community including reception teams, catechists, marriage preparation, coordination of the Salesian Family (Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Salesian Cooperators, Association of Mary Help of Christians and Past Pupils), pastoral care, apostolate of mercy and a common room set up for 40 seniors to access meals. Salesian missionaries and volunteers also prepare monthly food kits for 12 families.

Cuba has a planned economy dominated by state-run enterprises, according to the CIA World Factbook. It notes most industries are owned and operated by the government and most of the labor force is employed by the state. Following the fall of the Soviet Union, the Communist Party in Cuba encouraged the formation of worker co-operatives and self-employment.

Today, the official unemployment rate in Cuba stands at 2.5 percent, although unofficial stats more than double that rate. In 2015, Cuba ranked 68 out of 188 countries on the United Nations Development Program Human Development Index. Housing and transportation costs are low are low in the country, and Cubans receive free education, health care and food subsidies.

Special note: 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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