The Salesians first arrived in the capital,Lima, in 1891. Quickly impressing the locals, they were then invited into other Peruvian cities. This expansion bloomed and, by 1902, the Salesian province of Peru was created, which also oversees the Salesian presence in neighbouring Bolivia.
In 1963, Bolivia formed its own province,leaving the Salesians in Peru with a focused mission – just in time for them to celebrate the assignment of their first Peruvian Provincial!
COVID-19 has hit Peru harder than almost anywhere else on earth, with the highest casualty rate per capita in the world. Currently in its third wave of the deadly virus, schools have been shut since March 2020 and severely complicating matters, ongoing unrest in nearby Venezuela sees starving refugees seeking food and shelter.
It is in these dark times that the Salesians burn brightest! Leaping into action, they have contributed to several fundraising campaigns led by the Catholic Church and the government, as well as collected and provided food for over 90 “ollas populares”, the local equivalent of a soup kitchen.
The eight Don Bosco Houses in Peru have remained open, despite widespread closure of most other places, because they provide crucial services to the community. Seven of them are populated by about 50 young people who live and study there, most of whom come from difficult circumstances. They are provided with internet access so that they can continue to learn remotely, keeping up with their classmates in primary and secondary school.
The eighth house has become a place of welcome for Venezuelan migrants who are fleeing famine in their home country. With the welcome these migrants receive, most of them are able to find jobs,over 800 adults have been helped in this way.
Often these migrants are so thankful for their welcome they do what they can to give back – recently, they collectively decided to forgo one of the meals they are provided a week, instead distributing it to the homeless in the local community!