PERU: Salesian Sol Bosco Program Provides Recreation Activities, Skills Training to More Than 100 Youth
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries in Breña, a district within the capital city of Lima, Peru, facilitate a project each year known as Sol Bosco. This program provides educational lessons and a safe space for youth to enjoy time with their peers and develop skills and expertise in various disciplines. Youth can access skills training in courses such as guitar, cooking, martial arts, football, volleyball, basketball, handicrafts, and traditional and modern dance.
Youth from the Salesian parish of Mary Help of Christians kicked off the program in 2017 by going from house to house in Breña announcing that the program had started. As a result, more than 100 children are registered to participate. The workshops are offered by older youth that are part of the Salesian Youth Movement.
Lima, which has a population of close to 10 million people, is a chaotic and busy city with extreme wealth and poverty. According to the World Health Organization, Lima is also one of the 10 most polluted cities in Latin America. Youth living in the slums of Lima often have little chance to escape poverty, especially without access to education and caring adults who help them get on the right track in life. This Salesian program provides an avenue for volunteers and missionaries to meet local youth and introduce them to educational programming with opportunities for them to later connect more long-term into Salesian schools.
“Given the struggles in the community, many families turn to Salesian programs for safety, education and social programs,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Youth need opportunities to have safe play and connect with adults and older youth who are able to mentor them. They need to have all of their basic needs met and the support needed to focus on their studies and gain an education.”
In Lima, Salesian missionaries also provide a provincial house, Salesian College, Superior Institute and Technical Vocational Center and a house for homeless youth. Missionaries also operate the Mary Help of Christians parish, which provides communal meals for the elderly and sick residents of Breña. From Monday to Friday, people come to enjoy the afternoon meal at the Salesian parish. For some it’s the only meal they have each day.
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.
World Bank – Peru