Population:29.1 millionLiteracy Rate:90%Religion: Roman Catholic (81.3%)
The Salesians are providing life-saving support in Peru, a country plagued by poverty, hunger and disaster. Half the population is poor, 24% of children are chronically malnourished and communities struggle to rebuild after a devastating 8.0 earthquake that destroyed 60,000 homes and businesses. The situation is made worse by a shortage of productive farmland and a lack of job skills among women entering the workforce.
Provide Disaster Relief
Rebuilding efforts continue after an 8.0 earthquake in Aug. 2007, which killed more than 500 people in the central coastal cities of Chincha, Pisco and Ica, and injured hundreds more. 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. The Salesians were among the first to respond – facilitating immediate humanitarian assistance. In addition, they established several new facilities offering food, shelter and educational assistance to approximately 500 children while their parents helped in reconstruction. Today, these oratories serve as a model for expansion in other areas of Peru. Years after the quake, Salesians still helping with ongoing reconstruction efforts, such as the development of “Mary Help of Christians Village” in Chinca – comprised of 22 small homes with running potable water.
More Missions in Peru
High in the Andes, the people of Chacas are using their woodcarving skills as a tool to education and jobs – and a better life. In Peru, approximately 53% live below the national poverty line, and 25% live in extreme poverty according to the UN World Food Program.
Through the Don Bosco Woodcarvers Cooperative of Chacas, young men can become skilled craftsmen rather than be forced to leave for the city in search of work. The course is a five-year program, recognized by the government, and includes a high school education as well as job training. The 700 students range in age from 12-18. The school is focused on young men with the least opportunity – in the farming communities, this means youth from families with little land and few animals are priority.
Upon graduation, each student receives a gift of a tool chest of saws, hammers, chisels and other equipment. They may choose to start on their own or become members of the Cooperative. Currently, 500 woodcarvers in 10 different areas of the Andes belong to the cooperative – supporting their families and their communities. Their high quality work is exported throughout South America, Italy and the United States.
The number of women in the Peruvian workforce is increasing, according to the Pan-American Health Organization. So, too, is the need for job training for marketable skills that will help women support themselves and their families.
Since 1982, Salesian Missions has offered training for girls at a vocational school in Yanama. Currently, more than 300 students enrolled in these schools, which are now located in parts of Brazil, Bolivia and Ecuador, as well as Peru. Girls are trained in using alpaca and sheep wool to make sweaters, rugs, gloves and other articles, which are marketed locally and abroad. On graduating, they receive a weaving machine as the first step in the new career.
In Peru, 24% percent of children under five are chronically undernourished, according to the UN World Food Program. Many of the causes – such as poverty or lack of family education -- are part of daily life for street children.
For these at-risk children, Don Bosco shelters offer the basic needs of food, clothing and caring adults. Shelters offer the first steps in building a new life – as well as more long-term support, such as education and technical skills. Currently, children and youth are welcomed in shelters across Peru.
Peru’s limited availability of farming land and low yields of agricultural production in specific areas make it extremely vulnerable to food insecurity, according to the UN World Food Program.
The first agribusiness school in the country has been established to train youth to maximize farming and food production capacity. The crops produced on the land are sold to support the continued training from the youth in this part of the country.
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