Cruzeiro do Sul has about 80,000 inhabitants, who live mainly from agriculture, with the presence of small farmers and large estates. The city is located in the northern tip of the State of Acre, which is part of the Amazon area, and is a few kilometers from Peru, the mountains and the Amazon rainforest.
“Cruzeiro is an isolated city,” says Fr Cappelletti. “To get to the state capital, Rio Branco, it takes 10 hours by bus, and there are no direct flights from other cities in Brazil. It is a city full of children, adolescents and young people. But youth unemployment is enormous and this favors the action of the drug cartels. Three years ago the violence exceeded all limits, with bloody deaths of young people in every corner of the city.”
“I was in Cruzeiro at the end of February,” continues the Salesian missionary. “I tackled 1,200 km of roads full of holes, unpaved for long stretches. The situation that stands out is the huge number of children and young people present in the poorest bairros. In those days there was also a great flood throughout the state, which gave me even more an impression of abandonment and poverty.”
“The dream factory” is the name of this new missionary reality, which Fr Cappelletti chose together with Msgr. Juvenal. “We want to give new perspectives of peaceful coexistence, of insertion into the professional world and of active participation in the life of the Church,” adds the Salesian.
The community will have its own home within a part of the former minor seminary, which is already being renovated. Next to the house there will be a beautiful oratory with a football field, meeting rooms, an indoor gym and lots of surrounding green spaces.
The Salesians shall be responsible for the city's youth animation through the oratory and also the weekend animation in the bairros, involving children, teenagers and young people, so that they become positive protagonists of the city and of their own lives.
In a more central position in the city is the headquarters of Caritas, which will make available to the Salesians two large rooms currently in disuse, where cooking courses and workshops to become bakers will be organized for the benefit of the most needy young people.
“We want the presence to have a simple and light structure, without large buildings and constructions. Asking your prayers and your affection, I greet you with a warm brasileiro hug,” concludes Fr Cappelletti.