Guatemala – Refectory in San Benito Salesian parish serves most vulnerable during pandemic

08 June 2020

(ANS - San Benito Petén) - The global emergency is having effects that go beyond coronavirus. The lockdown, curfew, restrictions on mobility, and the slowdown in economic activity have left millions of families in poverty. Without being able to work, they have no food to eat and the problems will last beyond the time when the pandemic will be overcome. The Salesians of the parish of San Benito Petén, in Guatemala, are looking for solutions to help the most vulnerable. Their latest initiative has been the establishment of a refectory to supply basic necessities to the most disadvantaged.

The three Salesians of the parish of San Benito Petén, with a population of 80,000 people, are always at the side of the population. However, the contagion has increased in the Country and the government has imposed more restrictions on mobility. For this reason, Salesian missionary Fr Giampiero de Nardi has set up a refectory for the poor that aims to reach the most vulnerable people: people without income and therefore unable to obtain food for themselves.

With public transportation closed and the curfew of the past few weeks, the country is trying to control the spread of coronavirus nationwide. The Salesians, meanwhile, want to continue offering their pastoral, accompaniment, and social services to people. In addition to the daily online broadcast of the Mass, the procession with the Blessed Sacrament by car through the city, and the distribution of food on the weekends, they have now thought to open this refectory.

The social refectory will help hundreds of people over the past few weeks who are without resources because of coronavirus.

"During the pandemic we want to continue helping the most vulnerable people," said Fr de Nardi. "To this end, the arrival of a container with non-perishable food will be essential in these days. In addition, we want to buy vegetables, condiments and some meat, so that families can eat meat once a week."

The Salesian missionary explains that "a pound of chicken costs about the equivalent of 0.70 euros and three people can eat with it." In the same way, "the solidarity of the population is seen in the collaboration they offer us with the delivery of non-perishable products that is then distributed0. Rice, beans, eggs, oil, pasta ... arrive every day at the refectory of Salesian solidarity, thanks to the generosity of the population."

In a restricted physical space, and with a road of separation, there are the cities of Petén, Santa Elena, which has 50,000 inhabitants, and Flores, the municipal capital. The fear that the crisis will continue and that the episodes of violence to get food will increase have prompted the Salesians to open this refectory to continue offering their help to the most vulnerable population in times of Covid-19.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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