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GUATEMALA: Young Salesian student thanks Don Bosco for recent success

Graduate of Salesian school received scholarship and is studying at Salesian Mesoamerican University


(MissionNewswire) Maria Fidelia Paau, a member of the Maya-Q’eqchi’ ethnic group, was elected Indigenous Queen of Carchá, Guatemala, with the title “Flower of the People” for 2022-2023. After her election, she went to the Salesian boarding school in San Pedro Carchá, where she lived while gaining an education at the Salesian secondary school Talita Kumi. She wanted to thank Don Bosco and the Salesians for her success.

Paau was one of the first girls involved with the local Salesian oratory and who studied in the local Salesian school. She is now studying educational science at the Salesian Mesoamerican University and is among one of the young women who received a scholarship from Mission Don Bosco.

Salesian Mesoamerican University has launched a new course of study each year since it has been in operation. First came a teaching training program, then educational administration and educational sciences. These were followed by social work and bilingual primary education. In 2018, Salesians added an agronomic engineering course followed by a new religious studies course.

The university plays an important role in the Talita Kumi mission to promote leadership and empowerment of thousands of Indigenous women. The broader Talita Kumi project provides services to women and young children. Children attending Salesian community centers in the Guatemalan departments of Quiché, Izabal, Petén and Alta Verapaz receive pre-primary education that is facilitated by volunteers from the community with the help of Salesian staff. Youth then go onto Salesian secondary schools for more skills training.

“Education gives vulnerable youth a sense of personal dignity and self-worth, especially young women who often don’t have access to higher education,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Young women who are able to access education are more often able to achieve financial independence and make better and healthier choices that affect not only themselves, but their families and communities as well.”

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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ANS – Guatemala – “Indigenous Queen” of Carchá thanks Don Bosco

Salesian Missions – Guatemala

World Bank – Guatemala