MEXICO: Institute Celebrating 50 Years Providing Education in Indigenous Communities
(MissionNewswire) In the center of the Oaxaca Highland, Salesian missionaries operate the Institute for the Advancement of the Indigenous Community, which bring hope for a better life through education and workforce development for local indigenous youth. Salesian programs serve local youth through a primary and secondary school as well as a boarding school, all open to both boys and girls. Currently, Salesian missionaries oversee 45 boys in the program while the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians care for 53 girls.
Fifty years ago, Salesian Bishop Braulio Sánchez dreamed of educating youth within the Mixepolitana region in Mexico. His dream slowly became a reality thanks to the support of the local population, which contributed generously to the best of their ability to provide the materials to build a school. The initiative also had the unconditional support of the local Salesian Province. Many others financially contributed to help Salesian missionaries complete the construction of the school, knowing that the goal was to help support local youth through education while also providing them social and life skills and other basic services they needed.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the institute, which over the years has distinguished itself as an educational center that provides high-quality education and services to the local community. Many of its past pupils now occupy senior positions within their communities. They include people committed to seeking what’s best for the common good, public officials or politicians, and also people who have sought the service of others as priests and religious brothers or sisters.
“Education is always our primary focus in Mexico,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Youth in these communities are dealing with much more than just having access to education though. They need services that provide food and shelter as well as social and life skills so youth are able to focus on and make the most of the education provided.”
According to UNICEF, there are 52 million people living in poverty in Mexico, approximately 45 percent of the country’s population. For children, the rate rises to just over 53 percent with more than 20 million youth estimated to be living in poverty and 5 million of those in extreme poverty. Salesian missionaries in Mexico primarily direct their efforts toward the country’s at-risk youth, including girls and young mothers. Creating safe havens and improving educational opportunities are essential to deter youth from life on the streets where they are susceptible to drugs and gang violence.
“Youth need environments where they feel safe,” adds Fr. Hyde. “In many Mexican cities that are branded as violent and chaotic, Salesian work has revealed many young residents who are full of dreams, talents and high hopes for a productive and happy future, free from violence.”
UNICEF – Mexico
(Photo courtesy of ANS)