GUATEMALA: New Solar Panels at Vocational Center are Good for Environment and Cost Reduction
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries at the Father Bartoloné Ambrosio Vocational Training Center in Guatemala City, Guatemala, provide 300 youth with courses and workshops in carpentry, electrical training, information technology, industrial welding and milling. The energy costs for all of these services are very high and limit the possibility of investment, maintenance and refurbishment of the equipment. For this reason, Salesian missionaries are working to meet their energy needs in a natural way that helps the environment and reduces costs – something very much in line with the ideas offered by Pope Francis in the Laudato Si, his encyclical on the environment and human ecology.
The solution chosen by Salesian missionaries is the use of solar panels, devices that require a fairly high initial investment, but which can ensure a better impact on the environment. Using the solar panels over time will reduce the Salesian center’s electrical costs, and the funding can then be diverted to training and equipment maintenance and upgrades. With the purchase and commissioning of the solar panels, not only will the center have a clean and healthy environment, but it’s also reinforcing an additional educational message about environmental impact.
“Salesian programs are constantly evolving and advancing to meet local demands and keep up-to-date with technology and changes that can save programs the limited funding they have,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “The Salesian Vocational Center provides a valuable service to the community by educating youth and helping them to gain the skills necessary for employment.”
The Salesian center is staffed by both Salesian missionaries and lay teachers who provide education and training to poor youth in Guatemala so that they can enter the labor market. The center offers specialized training in the skills that are needed in the current workforce, helping students to make an easier transition from the classroom into employment. Students also have access to life skills training and entrepreneurship training as well as sports, music and personal development. These skills allow students to be prepared not only for stable work but also to make good decisions and become citizens that can contribute back to their communities.
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 live 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.
World Bank – Guatemala