GUATEMALA: Salesian missionaries help rebuild homes for Indigenous communities
Torrential rains and severe flooding decimated rural villages
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries in San Pedro Carchá have been working on a housing reconstruction project since torrential rains and severe flooding decimated rural villages in Guatemala. The storm on Nov. 4, 2020, isolated entire rural communities and devastated crops and housing. Chiachal, approximately 40 miles (65 kilometers) north of San Pedro Carchá and home to 105 Indigenous Q’eqchi’ families, was especially impacted.
In coordination with the Salesian Provincial House and with financial support from Salesians in Central America, donors, and other charitable organizations, Salesian missionaries set out to support this community. The first step was to purchase municipal land for the construction of new housing and the church. The work took the cooperation of the local Don Bosco Center and the Salesian-run Talita Kumi Center.
The Sisters of the Resurrection also purchased land that has since been subdivided into 120 lots, where 105 new houses, three churches, a school, a health center, and a community hall have been built. Each family was granted a family farm and farm animals. A cardamom processing cooperative project, including a dryer, is also underway.
“Salesian missionaries are living among these rural villages and saw firsthand the destruction the rains and flooding caused to these communities,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “With support from donors and other organizations, Salesians have been able to rebuild for these families. The area is so remote that there are few services and supports. Salesians ensure communities have access to basic needs and education.”
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 in Guatemala 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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Salesian Missions – Guatemala
World Bank – Guatemala