PERU: New Salesian Oratory Opens its Doors to 300 Youth and Families in Poverty
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries in Peru recently opened a new oratory for more than 300 young children, older youth and mothers from the city of Cusco, a city in the Peruvian Andes, and the surrounding area. The oratory was inaugurated at the Salesian College in Cusco and will provide education and social development services for youth and their families living in poverty in the region.
Home to a wealth of history, stunning architecture and Machu Picchu (one of the Seven Wonders of the World), Cusco and the surrounding area is a popular tourist destination. Close to 1.3 million people reside there locally with almost 25 percent of its population under the age of 15. Salesian missionaries are very active in the region through schools, missions, shelters, a nursing home and oratories. The newly established oratory will allow the missionaries to meet the needs of more youth and families in need.
“Salesian missionaries working in Peru have provided life-saving support and education to poor youth and their families through the years,” says Father Julio Acurio Yupanqui, Salesian youth director at the new oratory. “Salesian programs in the country focus on education and workforce development, helping to ensure that young Peruvians have access to the education and technical skills training that will enable them to find and retain long-term stable employment.”
This region of Peru is also home to a successful Salesian agriculture program. Although the area is difficult to access, coffee, cocoa and coca are cultivated in the Yanatile valley and the nearby basin of the river Lacco. The Salesian mission in Quebrada Honda is made up of the parish of Mary Help of Christians and the Experimental School for Agriculture and Livestock which educates more than 160 students, nearly half of whom board at the school.
The goal of the school is to provide young farmers with a basic education as well as advanced studies in the latest agricultural practices and modern technologies while moving towards efficiency in farming by exploring and testing new techniques in agriculture, horticulture, floriculture and animal husbandry. The school provides both classroom education and hands-on agriculture and livestock training on a working farm on the school campus. Salesian missionaries at the school hope the agriculture degree program will entice more local youth to choose agriculture as their long-term livelihood.
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 earthquake destroyed close to 60,000 residential and commercial buildings, leveled hundreds of acres of farmland and left countless Peruvians without means of livelihood.
World Bank – Peru