Brazil – Safe school for young Yanomami
(ANS – Marauià) – The Amazon today is the home of 1 million indigenous people, divided into about 400 tribes. According to data from the “Fundação Nacional do Índio” (FUNAI) 63% of indigenous people live in Brazil and out of the 400 identified ethnic groups, around 100, the most fragile, have chosen to live in complete isolation. The Salesians have been alongside the indigenous people of South America for more than a century: they support them through education and formation, but also by concerning themselves with the protection and appreciation of their culture.
During the 20th century there have been enormous changes, but the spiritual Sons of Don Bosco have continued to work tenaciously to provide the indios with the instruments to live with dignity and in respect of their own traditions.
This, for example, is what they do in Marauià, a small village overlooking a tributary of the Rio Negro, deep in the heart of the Amazon Forest. Here lives a community of Yanomami, one of the ethnic groups that most characterizes the Amazon and that the Salesians have been following for a hundred years, since they first arrived in this inaccessible and unexplored region.
The school in the village of Marauià, built in 2011, was seriously damaged in 2017 by a hurricane. After almost 2 years of immense difficulty, the Salesians want to secure the building so as to allow its 128 little students – who attend elementary and middle schools divided into 3 shifts, i.e., morning, afternoon and evening – to experience the most important moment of the day in a dignified and proper environment.
The project, backed by the Salesian Mission Office of Turin “Missions Don Bosco”, is simple, but f import. On a practical level, it is a matter of redoing the roof torn up during the 2017 hurricane, and of carrying out work to reinforce the foundations, to redo the floor and fix the facade.
The meaning of the project, however, goes beyond the work of safety. The President of Missions Don Bosco, Salesian brother Giampietro Pettenon, explains: “Attention to ethnic minorities is a fundamental element of the Salesian mission and is more than ever in the limelight because it was chosen as a topic of reflection for the special assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region. Supporting the project of this small school means guaranteeing a better future for the young Yanomami, future custodians of the world’s green lung.”
For more information, visit the website: www.missionidonbosco.org