ECUADOR: Youth shares his story of hope
Don Bosco Farm helps youth who faced violent home situations
(MissionNewswire) Don Bosco Farm in Ambato, Ecuador, provides a safe space for youth who have experienced traumatic violent situations. Most of the youth have suffered domestic violence, lived on the streets and did not attend school. At the farm, they live in a family-like atmosphere while they recover, exercise their rights, learn to live together and respect each other, and discover their skills through trade workshops. The ultimate goal for these youth is family reintegration or adoption. Salesian missionaries also work with families to create a loving and protective environment.
Álex Guache, age 17, has been living at the Don Bosco Farm for three years and described his former home life. He said, “I’m the youngest of four siblings. My mother lived outside the house. I never knew my father, although I know who he is, and my grandmother was the one with us, but she beat us a lot. We’re poor. Our house is made of dirt, bricks and tiles.”
The situation led to Guache living on the streets. “I spent three weeks on the streets. I never stole. I was begging. When the police found me, they took me to Don Bosco Farm in Ambato. My grandmother died and now I only have my mother because my brothers are all out of town.”
At the farm, youth recover part of their lost childhood. They receive the support of caring adults, medical and psychological care. They are also able to catch up in school and learn a trade for the future. Guache has a small plot of land on the farm that he tends to every day. “I grow beets and cilantro and take care of the animals we have, including the guinea pigs. My mother comes to help me, and thanks to what I harvest and sell, I also have my savings.”
Guache’s life has changed thanks to the Salesians. “On the street, I was cold and here I have things I never knew at home including a bed, food, clothes and shoes. I like to help others and participate in sewing workshops, help in the kitchen, be an altar boy. I want to be like Don Bosco to help people who have less.”
During the vacations, Guache leaves the farm and returns home. “My mother’s there, whom I love very much because right now I’m her only child in town. Thanks to the support I receive and my work, I pay for my studies and with the accelerated courses, I hope to pass the exams to enter the bachelor’s degree program this year.”
Now that he is gaining an education and living in a stable and supportive environment, Guache has hope for the future. He explained, “My dream is to be the first college graduate in my family. I will go to college and become an agricultural engineer. I want to work and take care of animals and go to the United States, where some of my aunts are, to help my family.”
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.
Salesians provide social development and educational programs across Ecuador to help poor youth gain an education and the skills for later employment. The skills they learn ensure they are able to care for themselves and their families while being contributing members of their communities.
ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS)
Salesian Missions – Ecuador
UNICEF – Ecuador