Peru - A future for the "pirañitas"

26 August 2020

(ANS - Lima) - Peru is a country that represents a challenge for the Salesians. Along the Pacific, there is its coast characterized by a continuous desert in which the mountains that slope down to the sea are rugged, barren. Lima is located right inside this desert and is, after Cairo, Egypt, the world's second-largest city built in the desert. Then there is the Sierra which includes the entire territory of the Andes with very high peaks and populated by the Quechua, the descendants of the Inca people. The eastern part of the country instead slopes into the Amazon basin with a tropical climate and indigenous tribes that can only be reached by river as there are no roads.

The Sons of Don Bosco in Peru are present in the regions of the coast, in the Andes and also in the Amazon jungle and in all these contexts the huge challenge is always represented by situations of greater vulnerability.

The first Salesians arrived in Peru in 1891. It was the first missionary expedition that Fr Rua undertook. There are currently 16 Salesian works in Peru, distributed in all regions of the country. There are large schools attended daily by thousands of students, ranging from childhood to high school, and many parishes, both in the cities and in the Amazon rainforest with dozens and dozens of chapels scattered in villages so remote that the missionary is able to visit only once a year.

A beautiful initiative that the Salesians of Peru started a few years ago is that of the “Casa Don Bosco”. These are boarding schools adjacent to the school itself or the Salesian parish, where the poorest children and those who come from the most distant villages are welcomed and housed. Often they are children with family problems, with parents who are sick and unable to work for sustenance. Sometimes they are children of single mothers who, in order to get married, leave their child with the Salesians and start a new life.

The "Missioni Don Bosco" project

Founded in 1993 to help the pirañitas, the street children who crowd the streets of the Peruvian capital, the Comunidad de Acogida Don Bosco works closely with social services and institutions, offering minors not only a home to live in, with sit-down meals at regular times and guaranteed medical care, but also a psychological and spiritual support service, as well as a path of rapprochement with families. Research, Reception, Socialization, Vocational Training, Professional integration: these are the steps developed over the years by the Salesians of the Don Bosco community in Breña, Lima, to guarantee the right to the future of the most disadvantaged minors, in particular the pirañitas who live on the street. After a first contact and an invitation to participate in the program, the children are hosted in the reception center where, in a family atmosphere, they find the confidence to undertake a training course that will allow them to find employment.

There are currently 68 youths, from 12 to 25 years old, and they receive full protection, which also includes compliance with the prevention rules of the coronavirus, which in Peru is experiencing a phase of expansion, complicating an already compromised socio-economic situation.


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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