PERU: Former Salesian youth giving back to his community and beyond to ensure youth have the same opportunity he had
(MissionNewswire) Giovanni Hurtado has found a way to give back to youth and the Don Bosco Foundation long after his childhood in the Magdalena del Mar neighborhood in Lima, Peru. Hurtado spent considerable time with the Salesians who had a school, formation house and parish in the area.
Today, at the age of 48, Hurtado wants to ensure that he is giving back in recognition and thanks for the support he received in his youth. Hurtado said, “I was lucky enough to meet the Salesians in a golden age when they were always in contact with young people.”
Hurtado now lives in Bad Vigaun, a municipality and spa town in the district of Hallein, in the Austrian state of Salzburg. He said, “As soon as I arrived in Austria, I asked for the nearest church. I wanted to talk to the parish priest and offer to sing at mass. I know I also had to something with the young people here.”
After a few years, Hurtado’s dream came true. With hard work and dedication, he founded the first oratory of the city, Pfarre Bad Vigaun. Hurtado based it on the Salesian oratory where he spent time as a child.
On Epiphany day in Bad Vigaun, youth visit homes to ask for charity donations to use for various educational and training projects around the world. The majority of the funding raised, 90 percent, is sent to Salzburg and then distributed to places that need help.
Hurtado worked to ensure that some of this funding was sent to the Don Bosco Foundation in support of the Yankaum Jintia Intercultural Technical Training Center, which was developed to meet the needs of poor youth living in the Peruvian Amazon. The center was launched in August 2016 and has become a common meeting place for youth of diverse backgrounds.
This training center seeks to improve the living conditions of indigenous families of the Achuar, Kandozi, Mestizos and Quechua ethnic groups in the Amazon. Youth are trained to be mechanics for outboard engines, as well as in carpentry, agriculture and animal husbandry. They are then able to contribute to the development of their communities.
Peru faces high levels of income inequality and has more than a quarter 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, as well as a lack of 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. Communities continue to rebuild after an 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. The quake destroyed close to 60,000 residential and commercial buildings, leveled hundreds of acres of farmland and left countless Peruvians without means of livelihood.
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Salesian Missions – Peru
World Bank – Peru