SPAIN: Don Bosco Foundation celebrates 20 years of providing access to education and social programs for vulnerable youth
(MissionNewswire) The Don Bosco Foundation, located in Córdoba, Spain, celebrated its 20-year anniversary on Oct. 26. The organization is committed to providing programs for vulnerable youth in Andalusia, Extremadura and the Canary Islands. Through education and social programs, the Don Bosco Foundation tackles a range of issues from social exclusion to poverty, working with refugees and youth.
“This anniversary is lived as an opportunity for updating and innovation,” says Ignacio Vázquez, director of the Don Bosco Foundation. “At the same time, we want to stimulate the attention of society and administrations to those young people who are not part of the educational system, but that certainly deserve an opportunity.”
More than 400 people work at the Don Bosco Foundation helping over 20,000 youth each year. The foundation provides “second chance” schools which are currently certified in all the territories in which the foundation operates. It also manages houses for minors and apartments for young refugees, facilitates programs for employment integration, provides multiple socio-educational resources and offers common family kitchens.
The Don Bosco Foundation is also focused on ensuring youth have access to education so they are able to successfully join the work force. In 2017, 3,300 graduates of Don Bosco Foundation programs entered the labor market. “Although the working situation is improving, the foundation gives an opportunity to all those people who otherwise would not be able to have them,” adds Vázquez.
In addition, the organization deals with the protection of minors living in refugee homes. Vázquez explains, “We make sure that they have a life as normal as possible and that this phase they live is similar to that of any child of their age. When foreign minors reach the age of majority, they are often forced into the streets because they do not have support networks. This is why the foundation offers them an apartment and personalized support actions, tailored to each case.”
Twenty years after the foundation was launched, there is still enthusiasm and the desire to continue improving the situation of all people turning to it for help. Vázquez concludes, “We hope, however, that the day will come when we will celebrate that our foundation has achieved its objectives and that therefore it is no longer necessary.”
Hard hit by the current economic troubles in Europe, Spain has the third highest rate of income inequality of the countries of the European Union. The richest 1 percent of the Spanish population accounts for a quarter of the national wealth, according to the World Bank. It also notes that 10.2 million people in Spain live below the poverty line, equivalent to a poverty rate of 22.3 percent.
Close to 37 percent of young Spanish workers under the age of 25 are unemployed and a growing number of them can’t afford to buy enough food to live. Poor youth with few employable skills struggle the most to find and retain stable employment. Women in Spain face inequality in the workforce. They earn up to 14 percent less than men and represent only 34.5 percent of those listed as the highest earners in Spain.
Salesian missionaries have been working for many years to provide educational and workforce development opportunities for poor youth and women in Spain through residential and technical and vocational training programs.
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World Bank – Spain