Although he was in his mid-20s and making a good living at a law firm here in the United States, Marcos Cisneros knew something was absent in his life. He had booked a flight to visit his sister overseas who was a Salesian Lay Missioner working at an orphanage. Upon his arrival, Marcos knew he had found the missing piece.
“The moment I got there, everyone at the orphanage opened up their hearts,” says Marcos. “I knew I had to figure out a way to do something.”
Following in his sister’s footsteps, he enrolled in the Salesian Lay Missioner program. His assignment was a Salesian Youth Center in Yapacani, Bolivia, where he met dozens of desperately poor children - like the little girl without a house.
Marcos had finished teaching class when he noticed a young child waiting for her mother. The mother never showed up, so Marcos decided to take the girl to her home. He was immediately taken back by her deplorable living conditions. “The house was just a roof with nothing else,” describes Marcos.
The shocking sight inspired him to take action. He rallied the support of his new friends who worked at the Youth Center and together they purchased the wood needed to build some walls. “It took about $200 to transform their house, which is a lot of money for them,” says Marcos.
In return, he was overcome by the family’s appreciation. “It seems the less a family has, the more willing they are to give it back,” says Marcos. “People are very generous with what little they have. It’s like pure love—the kind we’ll get in heaven.”
Marcos is determined to make sure these poor people with big hearts are not forgotten. “More than anything, we must take care of their basic needs,” he pleads. “If you try to teach a child on an empty stomach, she can’t learn. But once the basics are met, everything becomes much easier. They need people to love them as much as they love others.”
By helping others, Marco received more than he gave. “I went there wanting to change the world,” he says. “But when I got there, I realized they were the ones changing me. They taught me how to love again.”
The Salesian Lay Missioner program is just another example of your generosity at work. By making it possible for a willing young person to serve at one of our missions, you are having a positive ripple effect on many more needy children and families. Thank you for whatever you can give today to support this program and other meaningful Salesian works for the needy.
Find out more about the Salesian Lay Missioner program.