PARAGUAY, Fr. Pedro Kühlcke •
Everyone has suffered in the more than two years since the beginning of the pandemic, but especially the most disadvantaged throughout the world, including Paraguay. The “Casa Madre de Tupãrenda” (CMT) program could only be carried out digitally – by telephone and WhatsApp – and with the boys’ food, the house itself had to be closed. Visits to the youth prison, no way. But the time of Easter will come… —
In the meantime, here in Paraguay the pandemic has happily subsided, so we can go back to many activities as usual, of course always with a mask!
Several times a week I am in the juvenile prison of Itauguá, for confessions, personal accompaniment or for our pastoral service in the prison on Saturdays. Again and again a young man comes up to me with eyes shining with joy and says: “You know what, pa’i (Father), in four days I will be out of jail! Do you have room for me in Tupãrenda? I want to participate in the CMT program and learn a job, I don’t want to fall back into drug addiction and theft!”. “Yes, of course, I would love to! Call me as soon as you get home.” Jesus has risen in him!
Getting out of drugs
Yes, Tupãrenda is really a sign of hope for many who had to spend their childhood on the streets: alone, hungry, sad, with no future hopes… Drugs were the only ( seeming) consolation, but that led them further into the abyss until they ended up in jail. When they hear about CMT, for many it is the first time they can imagine a better life: with a job, with the opportunity to have a family that they themselves never had, with joy and satisfaction in their hearts.
Training social skills
In recent times many “newcomers” have arrived. In the first two months they learn “soft skills”, personal and social skills that are very important to be able to keep their job in the future. You have to start from the bottom up: setting the table and eating together at the same table, using and cleaning the bathroom well, learning to be patient with yourself and with others, not giving up everything at the first mistake or criticism, small carpentry jobs… Our trainer Lourdes is very patient with the newcomers, but also shows them that we take seriously the new life and the challenges of each one of them.
Horticulture, tailoring and baking
After these first two months, it is the turn of “horticulture”, the farming of vegetables, with a two-month period. During this time, the young people can use their youthful strength with the shovel and rake, but they also have to be patient in planting the seeds, transplanting, watering, weeding, etc. The highlight is then the harvest, and the pride of being able to eat home-grown vegetables together.
Then it’s the turn of the tailoring and, above all, the bakery, and then the transition to working life. It is always touching when the “alumni” send us photos and reports on how well they are doing.
A lot of what is happening in the work at the prison and at the House Mother of Tuparenda is possible by the generous donations. Every donation makes Easter possible.
Original: Spanish 2022-03-27. Translated by: María Aragón, Monterrey, México