GUATEMALA: Youth playing on the Don Bosco Sports football team have a chance to make their dreams comes true
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries provide a range of educational and social programs for poor youth and their families in San Benito Petén, Guatemala. Youth that are involved with the Salesian oratory are able to play sports through the Don Bosco Sports program which launched a football team in February 2016. As one of the programs used by Salesian missionaries to redirect youth away from dangerous activities in the area, the Don Bosco Sports football team engages its participants in healthy activity and competition.
In 2012, Salesian missionaries took over a Catholic parish in San Benito. From the beginning, Father Giampiero de Nardi, a Salesian missionary leading the parish, has been looking for ways to improve programming for poor and at-risk youth in the area. Founding Don Bosco Sports was a way to introduce youth to the many Salesian programs available.
For some football players that have the skills to qualify, belonging to a team is a source of financial support for their families. Other football clubs are then able to see how the young men play and can recruit them onto more professional teams. That was the case for Nelso Iván García, one of the best players in Petén. A humble young man, Garcia only needed two minutes on the field to prove that he had a great future as a footballer.
He joined Don Bosco Sports football team and became a pillar of the team. It was one of his cousins who convinced Fr. de Nardi to enroll him in the third division of the Guatemalan championship. After Garcia played for Petén for a season, many teams in other divisions had their eye on him. Without losing his humility, today Garcia has already debuted in the first division and is representing his country in the Guatemalan under-20s.
Garcia always says with pride, “I belong to Don Bosco Sports.” His life has changed for the better and he now serves as a role model for youth who want to follow in his footsteps. Those living in San Benito face many challenges, but Fr. De Nardi does not give up and continues to work on behalf of youth in the region.
Additional Salesian-run programs in the El Petén region continue efforts to prevent HIV/AIDS and provide treatment for those who have the disease. The area has the third worst incidence rate for contraction of HIV in Guatemala. Despite the fact that the project that financed this work has ended, Salesian missionaries continue to do prevention work and offer medical care and other social services for those infected with the virus. Missionaries seek additional funding and are working with the Office for the Prevention of AIDS of the Episcopal Conference of Guatemala which is operating many of the existing prevention programs for women in the country.
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 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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World Bank – Guatemala