Salesian Project for Colombian immigrants

(ANS – Alajuelita) – The Salesian centre CEDES Don Bosco, reinforcing its cooperative connection with the Mission Procure of New Rochelle, has joined the international network for technical training “New Beginnings” . The project aims at an integral improvement in the quality of life of about 5000 Colombian immigrants present in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Venezuela and Panama.

The agreement was signed last March 30th when representatives of the “Salesian Missions”, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Association of Consutants and Managers met in the CEDES Don Bosco premises to inaugurate the first course in technical training specially intended for Colombian refugees. The first 80 students began their first lessons in these days.

Training courses have begun in graphics design, metal mechanics, electrical installations and repair of information apparatus. The courses last for 300 hours, 40 of which are devoted to human development, so as to build up self-esteem, teamwork capability and leadership in the young students. At the end of the training CEDES Don Bosco with undertake to find work for the beneficiaries of the project , or will obtain assistance from institutions which help can those trying to set up in business for themselves.

Furthermore, the project developed by the Procure of New Rochelle will help the Colombian immigrants to obtain the juridical status of refugees in those countries which have accepted the agreement. Finally, it intends to open up inclusive and intercultural dialogue between Costa Ricans and Colombians through leisure activities, sport, music and games.

The Mission Procure of New Rochelle promotes access to education, medical care and suitable work for children and young people who are at risk. It develops a variety of programmes for the benefit of immigrant refugees. In Latin America it has paid special attention to the situation in Colombia.

The conflicts between guerrilIas and para-military groups over the last twenty years in Colombia have brought about the displacement of over 4 million Colombians. Of these about half have taken refuge in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Venezuela and Panama. However, only 22% of these immigrants have been able to go through the legal procedures of obtaining the official status of refugee, a situation which leaves all the others in a state of high social risk.