Peru – Salesians for poor young people: working in the sierra and forest

10 December 2019

(ANS - Cusco) - Cusco, the ancient imperial capital of the Incas, at 3,300 meters above sea level, is the seat of a Salesian school that is greatly appreciated by the locals, a school with a thousand students, and so appreciated that for every seat available in the classes of the first year there are about fifty applications for registration. Cuzco is also the city closest to another symbolic work: the agricultural school of Monte Salvado.

The Salesian center is located in a region where the sierra gives way to the wilderness. Always in the mountains, but only at 1,100 meters above sea level, near the stream, is a large agricultural school located at the center of a property of about 80 hectares of land, not all cultivated as some areas are extended on too steep slopes.

The two hundred boys and girls who attend school are campesinos, that is children of farmers, poor people who live in isolation. They bring their children to attend the only secondary school in the area, and half of the students live in the two boarding houses attached to the school.

There is a real family atmosphere among the students. They are in contact with nature and with animals and learn to transform the products of the earth (they produce excellent jams and tasty fruit buckets) by learning the values ​​of patience and continuous dedication to see the results of their work. Orange trees, coffee and cocoa crops, vegetables, along with chickens, rabbits, cattle and pigs are the habitat in which they study.

Challenges are not lacking for Salesians who have to manage such a work. The first is the educational one, because it is not easy to find teachers who agree to give up the comforts of the city.

The second is economic, because the students' families are very poor and cannot pay the tuition fees for attendance and even less for room and board. This is why the agricultural school sells animals and products of the earth, in search of economic return. But it is not easy to sell products when the distances from populated centers are enormous.

The third challenge is technological: the school is so isolated that no electricity comes. The Salesians have built a small hydroelectric plant that uses the water from the nearby stream. But when water is scarce during the dry season, the energy problem becomes serious.

The school's future is difficult and the challenges are many, but certainly the work of Monte Salvado is an extremely significant home, "salesianally" speaking. It is precisely for these poor and abandoned children that Don Bosco spent his whole life. This is why the Salesians trust in Providence and move forward.

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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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