PERU: Programs focus on youth and people living in poverty
Salesian programs provide education and social services to help youth in poverty
(MissionNewswire) At the beginning of 2021, Salesian missionaries working and living in Peru reaffirmed their commitment to work for the construction of a more democratic, just and supportive nation. Through this process, they focused on four “flags” (priority areas) for their work. The first is their commitment to youth and people living in conditions of poverty and social exclusion.
“Today, we focus on the first of these flags: the priority for young people, the poorest, those at high social risk and vulnerability,” explained the Salesian Provincial Father Manuel Cayo. “For us Salesians, young people are our main concern. We were born to respond to their requests and challenges, and the reality of our country makes our task even more necessary and decisive.”
Fr. Cayo added, “In general, society views adolescents and young people with fear, as something dangerous that can harm them. At the same time, we got used to seeing them lying on the street, taking drugs or getting drunk. For a long time, the adolescent was seen as the future of the country and, therefore, was one of the most protected groups in society. Investments have been made in education and formation. Since the 1980s, they have become the most vulnerable sector. There are no more policies for this sector and today we have many young people outside the system, without life plans.”
Salesians have highlighted that the unemployment rate for men under 30 is 19.8 percent in Peru while the rate for women has reached 25.2 percent. Poverty is also increasing for youth, going from 26.9 percent in 2019 to 39.9 percent in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, according to UNICEF. There are more than two million children between the ages of 15-24 who neither study nor work. These conditions, coupled with a rise of alcohol and drug use, are leaving a whole segment of the population at risk of long-term poverty and social exclusion.
Don Bosco Foundation in Lima is one program helping to ensure youth have the education and social support they need to succeed. Providing youth access to technical training helps to ensure that they are learning employment and life skills needed to find and retain stable employment. Youth are then able to support themselves and give back to their families and 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.
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Salesian Missions – Peru
World Bank – Peru