PERU: Educators and youth from Red de Casas Don Bosco meet to discuss important topics in youth education and social support
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries working at the organization, Red de Casas Don Bosco, serve hundreds of children and older youth offering them a home, food, education and spiritual and psychological support. Red de Casas Don Bosco includes 11 boarding homes in the Peruvian cities of Ayacucho, Arequipa, Cusco, Huancayo and Lima (Breña and Rímac) and in the Cusco Alto Andinas missions including Ampares, Calca and Quebrada Honda.
Recently, Red de Casas Don Bosco held the 12th meeting of its network bringing together 139 people including youth and educators from the 11 boarding homes run by the organization. The topics covered included formative activities that strengthen personality and challenges for educators in their work with youth. Salesian leaders from programs in Colombia facilitated the meeting.
Children and adolescents are one of the most vulnerable segments of Peru’s population. This vulnerability requires special protection from the state, family and community. Salesian programs work to meet the basic needs of poor youth and provide opportunities for education. Youth engaged in Red de Casas Don Bosco programs are all minors who have lived in situations of social risk and have been forced to survive in the streets, sleeping in parks and under bridges. They are children deprived of love and affection and many are victims of violence, exploitation and abuse.
The program is particularly relevant given Peru’s high rates of child labor. The country has one of the highest rates in South America with 21.8 percent of youth working, according to the International Labor Organization. According to a study by Mariana Benavente for her book, “Los niños de la calle,” 86 percent of children living in total or partial abandonment on the street believe they can have a good future.
“This is something Salesian missionaries who work with street children know. Children and young people need us to speak, to dialogue, to be heard and accompanied,” said Father José Valdivia, provincial delegate for Red de Casas Don Bosco.
Peru faces high levels of income inequality and has more than 21 percent of its population living in poverty, according to the World Bank. Poverty levels are significantly higher in rural areas but urban areas struggle most with inequality, most notably metropolitan Lima. Poverty in the country is made worse by a shortage of productive farmland and a lack of job skills among women entering the workforce, adequate housing, nutrition and education. Peru has also been plagued by hunger and disaster. According to the World Bank, close to 25 percent of children in the country are chronically malnourished.
Salesian missionaries working in Peru have provided life-saving support and education to poor youth and their families for many years. They have also helped with rebuilding efforts after the 8.0 earthquake in August 2007 which killed more than 500 people in the central coastal cities of Chincha, Pisco and Ica and injured hundreds more.
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World Bank – Peru