Cajamarca is an Andean city located in the mountainous region of northern Peru; according to the National Institute of Statistics and IT (INEI), it is the poorest region in the country. "What should Cajamarca do to get out of poverty?" Mr. Pablo Secada asked himself, and the concrete answer was, "to invest in children and people." This is exactly what Fr de Censi thought when he sent the Volunteers of Operation Mato Grosso to open a house there and to dedicate himself to the poorest.
"Father Ugo", as he was called, arrived in Peru in 1976. He was 52 years old and had lived under the Alps, so he chose a place with snow. That place was Chacas, on the slopes of the White Cordillera. Chacas was destroyed by the earthquake of 1970 and then suffered the assaults of Sendero Luminoso. Now the city, where he was parish priest for 42 years, enjoys unity and optimism. The Salesian is buried there, at the foot of the main altarpiece of Chacas.
In Polloc, Fr de Censi's project continues in the hands of Fr Alessandro Facchini, a diocesan priest who followed the idea of giving priority to education and the development of trade skills of the poor. The Sanctuary of the Virgin of the Rosary was built in fine granite, and an institute was set up where young people can attend five-year technical training courses. This means they learn a trade, and many of them, in fact, then manage to start up small businesses. Some also prepare mosaics for Italian churches, where the craft of stone carving and intaglio is at risk of extinction.
In the Sanctuary of the Virgin of the Rosary, with its remarkable architecture, and in the surrounding workshops and gardens, art and good vibes resound everywhere - this without receiving any money from the State or mining companies. At dusk, from one of its beautiful balconies, one can contemplate the red-colored sky and feel as close to Paradise.
Source: El Comercio