PERU: Salesian Students Put Baking Skills into Practice Making Breads and Sweets
(MissionNewswire) 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, the capital city of Peru. Poverty in the country is made worse by a shortage of productive farmland and a lack of employable skills specifically among young people and women entering the workforce. In addition, many Peruvians lack access to 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 and injured hundreds more in the central coastal cities of Chincha, Pisco and Ica. 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.
Salesian missionaries working in Peru have provided life-saving support and education to poor youth and their families through the years as well as helped with rebuilding efforts after the earthquake. 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.
Youth at the Don Bosco Young People’s Home in Lima are practicing their baking skills by making breads, sweets and traditional Christmas panettone, a sweet bread loaf. All from disadvantaged backgrounds, the students reside and learn at the Salesian-run home. They are provided shelter and nutritious meals and have access to education, employment and life skills training. The programs offered at the home aim to help youth break the cycle of poverty by providing them the skills to find and retain meaningful employment upon graduation.
Taking the skills learned in the classroom, students utilize a kitchen available at the home to practice their skills and become employment ready. They make the breads and sweets which are provided to staff and students at the home while also selling their baked goods in the community in order to raise funds to support other program activities.
“Education is a path out of poverty for many youth,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development art of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Programs like the one at the Don Bosco Young People’s Home in Lima allow students to take what they learn in the classroom and put those skills into practice with real world experience, which helps them develop both personally and professionally.”
During the Christmas season the panettone is particularly popular. The students make the sweet bread in four different sizes and to the highest quality standard. The bread has been successfully sold in the local market for the last four years and Salesian missionaries operating the program hope that with the continued support of local companies and residents, the success of the baking program will continue.
World Bank – Peru