Foodstuffs are scarce because in the past Venezuela has focused all its economic development on oil; a country with the world's largest reserves, it has not diversified the production sectors.
Almost 90% of families live in poverty and over 60% in extreme poverty. Supermarket shelves are empty, inflation gallops to dizzying figures and people are forced to rummage through the garbage in the hope of finding some food. But in the countryside, at least, you can try to produce something on and of your own.
This is in fact the road that the Salesians want to travel in Barinas, in the North-West of the country. Here the spiritual Sons of Don Bosco animate an agricultural school located in a finca, that is a large farm or agricultural firm, with a lot of cultivated land, pastures and animal breeding.
Approximately 200 students aged 15 to 18 attend the school, all of whom live in the attached boarding school, in a fraternal and youthful climate.
"There is an air of confidence and great respect for the Salesians of the community by the boys. They are simple young people, who love nature and the work of the fields," testified Br. Gianpietro Pettenon, President of "Missioni Don Bosco", returning from his trip to the country.
The Salesians in Barinas have started up three small agro-zootechnical projects. Specifically, they mean to:
- rearrange and repopulate an existing chicken coop;
- provide for the repair of hives, already present, to restart the production of honey;
- start a rice crop on two hectares of land.
The proceeds would be used partly to cater for the food needs of students and teachers, and partly sold.
These are simple but important projects, to give concrete answers to people's needs, and to launch a message of hope: these activities have been interrupted because they have been hit by thefts and vandalism in recent times. Their restoration could mean a great deal to all the friends of Don Bosco of Barinas, boys, teachers and Salesians.
For more information, visit: www.missionidonbosco.org