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GUATEMALA: Brazilian dentist provides dental clinic for poor youth and their families during the Christmas season

(MissionNewswire) This Christmas was the second holiday season that Dr. Roberto Ceriotti, a Brazilian dentist, spent at the Salesian mission in San Benito Petén, Guatemala. Doctor Ceriotti spent the time helping poor youth and their families in need of dental checkups and care. His mother and sister were also with him to lend a hand.

Salesian missionaries provide a range of educational and social programs for poor youth and their families in the region. Father Giampiero De Nardi, an Italian Salesian missionary active in San Benito Petén, noted the importance of Dr. Ceriotti’s desire to volunteer over the holiday season. He said, “This is the famous sanctity of the house next door. The holiness that makes one happy. The sanctity that changes the world. The holiness we all need in order not to close ourselves up in our small daily problems.”

“Roberto Ceriotti, in fact is one of the many wonderful people who know how to put oneself aside and worry about those who need it most. If only there were more of these people in the world! I feel really small in the presence of this very good person, so busy for the good of the people of San Benito,” Fr. De Nardi added.

Those living in San Benito face many challenges but Fr. De Nardi does not give up and continues to work on behalf of youth in the region. He adds, “Petén makes us understand the profound meaning of life, the profound sense of things that Christmas should remind us of.”

Additional Salesian-run programs in the El Petén region continue efforts to prevent HIV/AIDS and provide treatment for those who have the disease. The area has the third worst incidence rate for contraction of HIV in Guatemala. Despite the fact that the project that financed this work has ended, Salesian missionaries continue to do prevention work and offer medical care and other social services for those infected with the virus. Missionaries seek additional funding and are working with the Office for the Prevention of AIDS of the Episcopal Conference of Guatemala which is operating many of the existing prevention programs for women in the country.

Rural poverty hasn’t changed much in Guatemala during the last 20 years, according to the World Bank. While 70 percent of Guatemalan citizens live below the poverty line, the number is as high as 91 percent for its indigenous population. Many rural residents have only completed a 6th grade education. This is largely due to the expenses required to send children to schools which are often located far from their homes.

Salesian missionaries working and living in the country have been providing for the basic needs of Guatemala’s youth while helping to break the cycle of poverty in their lives. They work extensively with poor youth and their families at youth centers, orphanages, parishes and primary and secondary schools as well as operate technical schools, vocational training workshops and two universities in the country.



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ANS – Guatemala – A Christmas among the poorest: “This is the famous sanctity of the house next door”

World Bank – Guatemala