In El Salvador: Looking for an Escape

Publication Date: 
March 20, 2012

Antonio and Luis are inspiring examples of how the generosity of caring friends like you combines with the love and determination of Salesian missionaries like Father Jose Moratalla to turn lives around in a dramatic way. A recent Catholic News Service article, told their story.

Antonio was a typical 15-year-old in San Salvador, struggling to cope with the deplorable conditions and overwhelming despair that plagued his impoverished community. Looking for an escape, he was tempted by the influence of gangs, violence and drugs.

"I liked hanging out with them," he recalls. "I wasn't a member of the gang, but I looked like I was. I dressed and talked like them. I even did little jobs for them as a lookout."

Antonio was on a dangerous path that would have likely ended his young life at an early age. His fate was changed thanks to opportunities provided by the Don Bosco Technical Institute, founded by Father Moratalla – or "Padre Pepe" – as he is affectionately known.

Antonio's parents brought the boy to the Salesian institute, and his transformation has been amazing. Today, he is studying to become an electrician and is very grateful for the opportunity he has been given. "My life has taken a turn for the better since I came here," he explains. "I am no longer walking the streets and causing problems."

For Antonio's schoolmate, Luis Ricardo, the turnaround has been even more dramatic. The 18-year-old was in jail for a violent and horrific crime when — because of good behavior and a caring attitude — he was allowed to finish his sentence at Don Bosco Technical Institute.

"(The institute) is a good example of how at-risk youth can be given tools to become good, productive citizens," proclaims Ramon Villalta, head of the Social Initiative for Democracy.

Luis is a living testament to the success of the Salesian institute. "Coming here has been very helpful to me," he says. "It's a chance to straighten out my life." In fact, Luis plans to attend the university after graduation this year. He plans to pursue a career as a lawyer and eventually become a judge.

Don Bosco Technical Institute exists because of caring friends like you. Your generosity today helps ensure that at-risk youth have a fighting chance to improve their lives – just like Antonio and Luis and thousands of other youth around the globe in 130+ countries where Salesian Missions has a presence. Thank you for whatever support you can give them.

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