The "Red de Casas Don Bosco" in Venezuela offers shelter to over 1,300 street children across the country, thanks to 10 houses. Mr. Leonardo Rodríguez, a lawyer and director of the aforesaid association, expresses his concern because every day adults come "in search of their children who have fled their homes, or parents who ask us to welcome their children in one of the Don Bosco Houses because they have no way to feed their children."
"For almost a year, we have asked the National Council for the Rights of Children and Adolescents to draw up a national plan for the protection of the rights of children at risk, given that it does not exist," states Dr. Rodríguez.
In the 20 years of experience with the Salesians, the Director of "Red de Casas Don Bosco" has also met minors who had been criminal gang members and acknowledges that "the hardest thing is when you make every effort to bring these kids together and maybe in less than a year they end up killed or in jail."
Since 2013, the Salesians have started new initiatives in the poorest neighborhoods to prevent children and adolescents from joining criminal groups.
Among the cases that Dr Rodríguez will never forget is the case of two brothers aged 11 and 13. "They were taken to an uncle in one of the centers of Caracas where they received help from our institution for two years, but the result was terrifying: the child was killed in a gang battle and the older boy was hit in the head and remained deaf. It was pitiful to see him that way, but he continued to come to the Don Bosco House until, the following year, the band found him and killed him."