Feeding Minds and Bodies in El Salvador

Publication Date: 
May 04, 2017

In El Salvador, countless people fall asleep on empty stomachs: children, the elderly, and other vulnerable people who simply can’t afford to eat. Salesian missionaries in the capital city of San Salvador are easing their hunger -- and offering rays of hope -- for hundreds of impoverished citizens.

According to the World Bank, despite increased economic growth, 35 percent of Salvadorans remain in dire poverty. The lingering aftermath of civil war, the ongoing threat of gang-related crime and violence, and the adverse effects of climate change continue to hinder advancement. There is a tremendous need for sustainable development, job creation and opportunities for impoverished youth to go to school. This means that millions of people still struggle to meet even the most basic necessities of life.

This is why the Don Bosco Industrial Polygon exists. Located in a gang-controlled suburb of San Salvador, its programs seek to address the root causes of such poverty, primarily through free education. Currently, more than 700 students attend the Salesian-run kindergarten, elementary and high schools, as well as the Don Bosco Training & Business School. And, because so many of them arrive hungry every morning, many of these boys and girls now receive three full meals every day.

“Children cannot concentrate or learn when they’re distracted by gnawing hunger,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions. “Never mind breakfast; many of these boys and girls often hadn’t eaten the night before. This is why feeding programs are so crucial to our efforts; breaking the chains of poverty requires the ability to succeed in school.”

This is the third consecutive year that our partner organizations have donated meals to Salesian-run programs in El Salvador. The most recent shipment of food was the most generous. Missionaries were able to distribute it to impoverished adults and elderly residents living in seven communities surrounding the Don Bosco Industrial Polygon.

“We could not do this without the generosity of our many friends,” notes Fr. Mark. “Their support helps us cover the shipping costs and logistics of getting each 40-foot container from United States warehouses to our programs overseas. While our donors may not realize it, their kindness is a concrete act of mercy.”

Several humanitarian organizations regularly partner with Salesian Missions to help address hunger around the world by donating fortified meals. Salesian Missions ensures that the containers, and the food, reach their intended destinations.

“Because our missionaries live and work within the communities they serve, they understand how to navigate existing bureaucracy and get things done,” says Fr. Mark. “This means that these meals make it into the hands and homes of those who need it most.”

Our mission feeds hungry bodies, minds and spirits. What’s your mission?

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