Brazil: New Funding Campaign to Support After-School Care for Poor Youth
(MissionNewswire) This December, a new fundraising campaign was launched promoted by Don Bosco in the World Foundation in support of the Happy Youngsters Project, run by Don Bosco City in Corumbá, Mato Grosso, Brazil. This project aims to keep youth off the streets afterschool by providing them a space where they are fed, supervised and kept safe until evening when a parent or grandparent is able to watch them at home.
Nearly one fourth of Brazilians live in poverty and 6.6 percent live in extreme poverty, according to a 2008 UNESCO report. While Brazil is making positive changes, there is still a large gap between the poor and the rich.
“In Corumbá we’re trying to rescue children from dangers like prostitution and drug trafficking, which are frequently encountered on the border with Bolivia,” says Father Osvaldo Scotti, director of the Happy Youngsters Project. “Through study, vocational training and education we can prevent youth from falling into vice and give them hope for a better future.”
In its 51 year history, Don Bosco City in Corumbá has worked with close to 30,000 youth providing training and education. Many of its students remain for 10 years or more to continue their schooling. At the end of their studies, they often receive ongoing academic support throughout their time at university and if needed, family assistance after that. A very strong bond is created between the Salesian-run program’s staff and the youth it serves.
Every day nearly 3,000 youth receive education and training services at Don Bosco City. There are about 2,000 students attending the primary and middle schools and 500 students enrolled in vocational training. Another 300 or more youth participate in the social welfare services offered and the Happy Youngsters Project.
The Happy Youngsters Project was initiated to serve those youth who return home from school to an empty house. Without afterschool care, these youth are more vulnerable to spending time on the streets.
“Anyone walking the street ends up being exploited, has little to eat and can fall into the trap of drugs and prostitution,” explains Fr. Scotti. “For this reason we keep youth after school, let them eat and spend the afternoon with us and go home only at night, when maybe a parent or a grandmother or some other responsible person can take care of them.”
“They are the most disadvantaged, because although other students are poor—given that the area has high emigration and only those with fewer opportunities remain behind in Corumbá—at least they have someone to be with them,” adds Fr. Scotti.
The project is currently being supported by close to 1,000 international donors from Italy, Slovenia and Spain. But with recent international economic struggles, donations have fallen. Without ongoing support it is likely the project will see a decrease in services leaving poor youth vulnerable.
To make a donation to support this project, visit the Don Bosco in the World Foundation.
Salesian Missions – Brazil