GUATEMALA: Salesian parish in San Benito Petén launches refectory to provide food to those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries at the Salesian parish in San Benito Petén, Guatemala, are working to help those who have been left vulnerable in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The lockdowns, curfews, restrictions on mobility and slowdown in economic activity have left millions of families in poverty around the globe. Without being able to work, people have no food to eat.
The Salesian mission in San Benito Petén was started in 2011 to provide education and social development programs for at-risk youth. Father Giampiero De Nardi, an Italian Salesian missionary active in San Benito Petén, has recently started a refectory for the poor that aims to reach the most vulnerable. The refectory will help hundreds of people who are without resources because of the coronavirus.
With public transportation closed and the curfew of the past few weeks, Guatemala is trying to control the spread of coronavirus nationwide. Salesian missionaries have found ways to continue offering their pastoral support and social services to people. In addition to the refectory, Salesians hold daily online broadcasts of the Mass, initiated the procession with the Blessed Sacrament by car through the city and have distributed food on the weekends.
“During the pandemic, we want to continue helping the most vulnerable people,” said Fr. De Nardi. “To this end, the arrival of a container with non-perishable food will be essential in these days. In addition, we want to buy vegetables, condiments and some meat, so that families can eat meat once a week.”
Fr. De Nardi added, “The solidarity of the population is seen in the collaboration they offer us with the delivery of non-perishable products that are then distributed. Rice, beans, eggs, oil and pasta arrive every day at the refectory thanks to the generosity of the population.”
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