Home / Region + Country Categories  / Americas & Caribbean  / Central America  / Guatemala  / GUATEMALA: Former president of the National Association of Past Pupils of Don Bosco is working with COVID-19 patients

GUATEMALA: Former president of the National Association of Past Pupils of Don Bosco is working with COVID-19 patients


(MissionNewswire) Dr. Venancio de León, who attended Salesian schools, is working with COVID-19 patients in Guatemala. In January 2019, de León ended his term as president of the National Association of Past Pupils of Don Bosco. He also chaired the Alberto Marvelli Foundation, which manages the Father Bartolomé Ambrosio Vocational Training Center in Guatemala City.

In Guatemala, COVID-19 cases have increased, and there are now 5,500 new cases in the last few days. Faced with this situation, de León is working among the poorest and the working class populations, many of whom cannot afford to pay for the medical care he provides.

“In addition to his professional qualities as a doctor, past pupil and person, Dr. de León has a great Salesian formation and human quality,” wrote Raúl Vázquez, director of the Bartolomé Ambrosio Center. “He now works with COVID-19 patients, leaving his family to go to a hospital that is five hours from the capital and then he returns to work in the hospital that has national responsibility for the infected.”

Vázquez added, “He is always smiling. He always talks about Don Bosco, Artemide Zatti and Mary Help of Christians. He is a doctor who lives an extraordinary spirituality and with truly admirable serenity.”

In Guatemala, where more than half the population lives on less than a dollar a day, health is not a recognized right. There are very few public facilities where people can be treated, and the first causes of death among children are intestinal and respiratory infections.

Because of the scarce availability of drinking water and the precariousness of hygiene, diseases are widespread including tuberculosis, typhus, malaria, worms, diarrhea and skin diseases. The risk of rapid spreading of COVID-19 is high. Because women and children are the most vulnerable citizens, they are most commonly the ones to be afflicted with many diseases. Children are particularly vulnerable because the country has the highest rate of chronic infantile malnutrition in Latin America with 49.3 percent of children under the age of 5 suffering from a lack of food, according to the World Food Program.

Rural poverty hasn’t changed much in Guatemala during the last 20 years, according to the World Bank. Close to 75 percent of the population is estimated to live below the poverty line and almost 58 percent lives below the extreme poverty line which the World Bank defines as struggling to afford even a basic basket of food. For the country’s indigenous population, the poverty rates jump even higher with almost 90 percent facing crippling poverty and few resources.

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 technical schools, vocational training workshops and two universities. Additional social and educational programs help provide for youth living on the streets and those living in poor indigenous communities.



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

ANS – Guatemala – Passion for medicine in time of COVID-19 without forgetting to be a past pupil of Don Bosco: Dr Venancio de León

World Bank – Guatemala

author avatar