PARAGUAY: Salesian-led Minga Guazú District Emergency Committee has provided food aid to 60,000 people during coronavirus relief response
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries in Minga Guazú, a municipality in the department of Upper Paraná, Paraguay, have been working to provide local people with food and relief support during the coronavirus pandemic. The Salesian community in Minga Guazú has also been coordinating the logistical work of the District Emergency Committee, which was created at the beginning of the health crisis to help alleviate the needs that were beginning to emerge for the city’s most vulnerable families.
In the region, missionaries operate several organizations including the Don Bosco Institute, the Don Bosco Temple, the Mary Help of Christians Parish, the Mary Help of Christians Institute and the Mary Help of Christians Technical Institute.
“The miracle of Minga Guazú was built with the collaboration of many people, associations and institutions, such as the municipality and the Office of the Governor, beyond political allegiances and beliefs, with a very strong presence of the young people of the Salesian youth ministry,” explained Father Sergio Maciel, coordinator of the District Emergency Committee.
During the relief response, coordinators from 65 chapels within the parish collaborated to deliver food kits to families in need. When requests increased, the District Emergency Committee began working directly from Mary Help of Christians Technical Institute, where it still operates. Currently, the committee is distributing basic products to the poor across the Minga Guazú district, benefiting over 60,000 people.
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.
Paraguay is among the poorest countries in South America. According to UNICEF, almost 23 percent of its population of 6.5 million people lives 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.
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