“We provide work, so that they will stay near to their origins, to their people, to moral values, and so that they can be good people who also help those in need of them.” —
Father Ugo de Censi
Fr. Ugo with the first group of students in 1979 The first group of students learning a new trade in Chacas School program for girls to learn sewing and weaving One of the many groups of artisans Workshop for sculptors in Chacas An artisan at work The work of ADB in St. Peter and Paul Church in Maryland
Fr. Ugo with the first group of students in 1979
The first group of students learning a new trade in Chacas
School program for girls to learn sewing and weaving
One of the many groups of artisans
Workshop for sculptors in Chacas
An artisan at work
The work of ADB in St. Peter and Paul Church in Maryland
In 1976, Fr. Ugo settled permanently in Chacas, Peru in the Cordillera Blanca of the high Andes as its local parish priest. He was immediately struck by the poverty of the village. Because of the lack of work, many young people were leaving their villages to look for employment in the big cities.
In 1979, he started a school of carpentry and woodcarving for boys to teach them a profession. In 1982, a school program began for girls to teach them weaving, embroidery and sewing. In 1983, the first 12 students successfully completed the carpentry school thanks to tradesmen from Italy and Peru who came to help. Soon other schools opened in villages across the Andes.
The school program lasts five years, and it is recognized by the Peruvian government. Students are selected from the neediest families in nearby communities. Their education, room, board, classes, and materials are all free.
Artesanos Don Bosco (ADB) is a non-profit organization that supports self-employed, skilled artisans in Peru. It gives the opportunity to young people to remain in their villages while earning an income and improve their lives. Thus, they are no longer forced to migrate to earn a living.
ADB began as an association of artisans, following the first graduation. After schooling, the artisans receive the tools necessary to continue their craft. They can open their own business or choose to join ADB. Each artisan (about 600 nowadays) operates as an individual micro-business, paying monthly taxes. They are self-employed, sharing machines and tools in one of 13 workshops across Peru.
In 2008, ADB came to the U.S. — to Baltimore. The artisans’ work is now featured in 16 churches (St. Peter and Paul in Easton, MD among them) and their furniture has been sold to customers throughout the U.S.
ADB is one part of a massive network of volunteer-run initiatives. What are the other projects? Find out in the Charity section.