Salesian missionaries continue providing services in the face of challenging economic and political conditions
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries have been living and working in Venezuela long before the country's political and economic crisis began and are reporting that people are losing hope, according to an article in Crux, a Catholic news source. To date, more than 5.5 million people have fled the country due to the challenges they faced and lack of opportunities.
An estimated 87 percent of the population of 28.5 million is currently living in poverty, and essential goods such as food and medicine are scarce. In the Crux article, Salesians reported, "We do not see effective responses against the coronavirus, although the situation was already very complicated before. Moreover, the population is losing hope. They do not see the light at the end of the tunnel."
A Salesian working in Caracas, speaking about Venezuela's inability to address the COVID-19 pandemic, warned, "People are coping. If they feel unwell, they take something and carry on, because many do not have access to medical care." According to Johns Hopkins University, less than 4 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Salesian missionaries are helping distribute food, water and hygiene products in the communities they serve to help those impacted by COVID-19. They have helped returning migrants, organized community kitchens, supported people in parishes and aided Indigenous communities in the Amazon. They are also focused on the youth served in their programs.
Salesian missionaries have also kept their focus on youth who participate in one of the seven programs operated by Casa Don Bosco, located in Caracas. Every day, Salesian missionaries provide breakfast and lunch to children in vulnerable situations thanks to the support of the Salesian Missions office in Madrid.
Education in the country is challenged. In many places, there are no teachers because they have not been paid. In most schools, it is impossible to implement sanitation measures due to structural deficiencies. In response, at the end of 2020 Casa Don Bosco implemented an emergency education initiative and enrolled 4,184 children and adolescents within its seven programs.
According to the Crux article, Salesian missionaries are also working hand in hand with the bishops' conference in their efforts of dialogue and national reconciliation.
"In Venezuela, we need to dialogue, we need to find an expression of the popular will," Salesians wrote in a statement released in the Spanish news outlet Religion Digital. "Those who should have the last word are the people, the citizens ... It is necessary to give security to choose, to speak."
Salesians also wrote that they need to find "a way that the aid that we receive reaches where it should go. We receive a lot of solidarity, even from outside our country. There are many people who want to help... but it is useless if it remains on the way."
For those who remain in the country and are in need, Salesian missionaries will continue their work providing education, workforce development, and social development services to poor youth and their families despite ongoing volatile political and economic conditions.
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Salesian Missions -- Venezuela
UNHCR -- Venezuela situation