ECUADOR: Salesian Father Rubinsky Sánchez helps people in need with nutritional and social support during the coronavirus pandemic
(MissionNewswire) Salesian Father Rubinsky Sánchez has been living and working in the Salesian community of Machala, Ecuador, and has played a pivotal role in helping the community during the coronavirus pandemic. In March, he likened the early days of the virus to a horror movie because of the nervousness and panic, along with scarcity of food and some medicine. People living in poverty were pushed further into extreme poverty because of the required quarantine.
Faced with this situation, Fr. Sánchez began reaching out to families served in the Salesian community. Many were without work, as they had been in the informal employment sector and that work was no longer available. At the end of March, he received a call, which helped tremendously. A donor said, “Father, I want to help your parish because you (the Salesians) are doing wonderful work with the people.” It was a great emotional moment because this donor committed to donating 500 food kits.
“I’m one of those who get into the van and go and give a hand to the people,” said Fr. Sánchez. “I am not looking for death. I am not looking to get infected, but I am not a father who stays behind the desk.”
Fr. Sánchez, in collaboration with Fr José Luis García and a group of volunteers, formed a group that was at the forefront of helping hundreds of families. Protected by gloves, glasses and a mask, Fr. Sánchez organized the delivery of food kits to the poorest served by the Salesian community. In 20 days, he traveled through neighborhoods distributing 500 food kits and then 1,000 more.
Fr. Sánchez said, “I would arrive, knock on the door, talk to them and know their situation, before handing out the food. You can’t imagine the excitement they had and some were even dancing for joy because they had nothing to eat. But I didn’t just give them something to take to the table, I also shared a word of encouragement so that they wouldn’t lose hope for better days.”
Later, aid from the Don Bosco Mission arrived and he went out again to deliver the $60 cards so that the families could buy food in the supermarkets. More than 600 cards were distributed and this aid continues through the “Daily Bread” campaign.
During his travel, Fr. Sánchez encountered many households in great need including one where four members of the family had disabilities and could not move around on their own. He went to a supermarket, did their shopping and personally took the food bags to them.
Through Fr. Sánchez’s contacts, a company in the city also donated 27 thousand liters of milk. His Salesian parish worked as a collection center and, along with Caritas, distributed the milk to different churches and directly to the parishioners.
Ecuador is one of the most inequitable societies in the world, according to UNICEF. The richest 20 percent of the population receives almost 50 percent of the national income, while the poorest 20 percent receives only 5 percent. According to the World Food Program, almost 26 percent of all children under age 5 have stunted growth, increasing to 31 percent in rural areas and 47 percent in indigenous communities.
Close to 20 percent of Ecuador’s population is people of indigenous heritage. For poor, rural and indigenous youth, education provides the best opportunity for finding employment, reducing inequities and breaking the cycle of poverty. Salesian missionaries have been providing education and other social programs for disadvantaged youth across Ecuador for more than 125 years.
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Salesian Missions – Ecuador
UNICEF – Ecuador