Bolivia – International Literacy Day: the work of "Don Bosco Proyecto"
(ANS – Santa Cruz de la Sierra) – There are many places in Bolivia where the Salesians work hard to take children and adolescents from the street, trying to distance them gradually from a terrible condition to which they have grown accustomed. One of these places is Santa Cruz de la Sierra where, thanks to an initiative of Fr Ottavio Sabbadin, the “Proyecto Don Bosco” was launched a few years ago: a project that leverages the principles of the Preventive System and offers the young the opportunity to develop and attend school.
Despite the great wealth of raw materials, Bolivia’s GDP per capita is one of the lowest in all of South America, with an average monthly salary of around 91 dollars. Social and family policies are few and ineffective, and the weakest categories are the ones who pay the heaviest toll, especially children. Even though there are laws and initiatives that protect children and adolescents (such as the introduction of a voucher for pregnant women and a law against dropping out of school and provides a small contribution to pupils) the poorest children in Bolivia are abandoned to themselves. For example, it is estimated that only 7% of children living in rural areas complete 8 years of compulsory education.
Faced with such a situation, 28 years ago, in 1991, Fr Sabbadin started the “Proyecto Don Bosco”, an initiative aimed at the recovery and social reintegration of street children. The initiative includes 3 different steps, to be carried out in as many centers located in the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra: “Hogar Don Bosco”, the reception house “Mano Amiga”, and the “Centro Barrio Juvenil Don Bosco”.
Attending these centers are 900 minors at very high social risk, but, thanks to “papà Ottavio” – as they call him – and his confreres, the children can get an education for their future and, when possible, reintegration into the family of origin.
On the occasion of International Literacy Day, 8 September, the local Salesians relaunched their commitment to fostering child literacy, the first step towards a longer lasting educational journey. For this they are collecting aid for the purchase of educational material – books, backpacks, uniforms, pencils, cases – which will be allocated to 250 children, girls and adolescents who are in a state of neglect and abuse and whom the missionaries have been taken charge.
For more information, visit the website: www.missionidonbosco.org