Álex, a young dreamer among many minors of "Don Bosco Farm" in Ambato

Ambato, Ecuador

Álex Guache is 17 years old and has been living at the "Don Bosco Farm" in Ambato, Ecuador, for three years. The Salesian centre takes in minors subject to court orders to promote their family reunification or, when not possible, adoption. Most of the minors living there suffered domestic violence; living on the streets and did not attend school. However, with the Sons of Don Bosco, they discover their talents, learn a trade, and dream of a future full of opportunities. "I’ll be the first graduate in the family," Álex says with satisfaction.

"Working and taking care of animals," is what Álex assures he has dedicated his entire life to. "I’m the youngest of four siblings. My mother lived outside the house. I never knew my father, although I know who he is, and my grandmother was the one with us, but she beat us a lot," the young man recalls. "We’re poor. Our house is made of dirt, bricks, and tiles."

The situation at home led Alex to live on the streets. "I spent three weeks on the streets. I never stole, I was begging. When the police found me, they took me to Don Bosco Farm in Ambato. My grandmother died and now I only have my mother because my brothers are all out of town."

At the Salesian farm school, children recover part of their lost childhood: they receive love, medical and psychological care, and catch up in school. "My dream is to be the first college graduate in my family. I will go to college and become an agricultural engineer. I want to go to the United States, where some of my aunts are, to help my family."

Alex has a small plot of land on the farm that he tends every day. "I grow beets, cilantro ... and I also take care of the animals we have, the guinea pigs. My mother comes to help me, and thanks to what I harvest and sell I also have my savings."

Alex's life has changed thanks to the Salesians, and much more can change with what he is learning. "On the street I was cold and here I have things I never knew at home: bed, food, they give me clothes and shoes...." The young man is involved in all the activities organized at the farm school: "I like to help others and participate in sewing workshops, help in the kitchen, be an altar boy... I want to be like Don Bosco to help people who have less."

During the vacations, Alex leaves the farm school and returns home. "My mother’s there, whom I love very much because right now I’m her only child in town. Thanks to the support I receive and my work, I pay for my studies and with the accelerated courses I hope to pass the exams to enter the bachelor's degree this year," the young man explains enthusiastically.

The Don Bosco Farm in Ambato is a large family where children who have experienced traumatic situations of violence recover and exercise their rights, learn to live together and respect each other and discover their skills through workshops to continue their studies and learn a trade. The ultimate goal is family reintegration or adoption, which is why the Salesians also work with families to create a loving and protective environment.