PARAGUAY: Donation Provides Emergency Food Relief to 40,000 Displaced by Flooding
(MissionNewswire) Youth and their families living along the Paraguay River in Asunción, the capital and largest city of Paraguay, received emergency food relief in December 2015 after the region experienced the worst flooding in 50 years. Officials in the country initiated a state of emergency after the flooding caused close to 130,000 residents to flee their homes.
The emergency food relief was made possible thanks to an ongoing partnership between Salesian Missions and Feed My Starving Children, a non-profit Christian organization committed to, “feeding God’s children hungry in body and spirit.” The partnership has resulted in the donation of 10,000 kgs of rice meals to help provide food security for 40,000 displaced flood victims residing in settlements along the Paraguay River. Any remaining rice meals will be distributed to Salesian programs in the region.
“Salesian missionaries are an integral part of the existing infrastructure in many countries and Salesian Missions plays an important role in making sure aid from the United States reaches its destination country and gets into the hands of those who need it most,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Salesian missionaries in Paraguay are responding to the ongoing needs of flood victims and working across the country providing education and skills training to help youth excel in the workforce.”
The ongoing partnership between Salesian Missions and Feed My Starving Children has resulted in 40-foot containers of fortified rice-meals being shipped to Salesian sites around the globe. Feed My Starving Children provides the food and Salesian Missions takes care of the cost and logistics of shipping each container from Feed My Starving Children warehouses to the destination country. Salesian Missions also works to help identify where the greatest needs are at any given time. The partnership began in early 2006 when the first 40-foot container was donated to and shipped by Salesian Missions for programs in Sri Lanka. Through the years, as Salesian Missions has determined beneficiaries in need of Feed My Starving Children food, almost 100 containers of more than 27 million meals have been donated, shipped and received by those in need in more than 25 countries.
Salesian missionaries have been working in Paraguay since establishing a church in Asunción in 1896. Through the years, missionaries have operated educational programs to help advance the skills and knowledge of the indigenous population in the area while promoting strong cooperation with leaders of the indigenous culture. Local Salesian programming supports laws in favor of the indigenous populations, the recovery of original lands, sustainable development, the appreciation of cultural values in each ethnic group and the fostering of internal leadership.
“Through educational programs, Salesian missionaries are focusing on increasing the capacity of indigenous communities,” adds Fr. Hyde. “Youth who lack educational resources remain in poverty. Our programs teach necessary trade skills to advance employment opportunities and give youth the chance of a better life.”
Paraguay is among the poorest countries in South America. According to UNICEF, almost 23 percent of its population of 6.5 million people live in poverty earning less than $1 per day. The gap between the small upper class and the large lower class is extreme and offers virtually no social mobility. Conditions of poverty drive youth into early labor and a lack of literacy in addition to a weak educational foundation compounds the problem. Those in poverty face overcrowding, low quality housing and a lack of access to basic household services. Paraguayans who only graduate from primary school are twice as likely to live in poverty as those who have access to and complete secondary school.
According to the World Bank, those in Paraguay that are monolingual Guarani speakers have almost a 50 percent greater chance of being poor than monolingual Spanish speakers and migrant populations have a 60 percent higher probability of being poor than non-migrants.
UNICEF – Paraguay Statistics
World Bank- Paraguay