Youth and Family

Within the Prelature, there is considerable diversity family structure, lifestyle and values. Loving families have to wrestle against poverty and the elements to provide for their children. The problem is that this can often be unintentionally at the expense of the children. For example, in the case of families that own livestock, oftentimes the whole family must help out. Children as young as five years old can be left to watch over livestock several times their size. In many cases, the livestock receive more attention than the children.

Families who want an education for their children often encounter hardships that pull the child away from the family.  Living in rural areas, they are obliged to have their children walk to schools that are hours away. If the school is too far away, the parents look for lodging within the area for their children to live in during the school week; hopefully with a family member or friend. If they do not have family in the area, the parents rent a building for their child to stay in, which can be shared with friends, cousins, or siblings. The parents, however, cannot accompany them because they must tend to the needs of the farms or the livestock; leaving the child at a very young age to live alone and without an adult during the school week. It is a difficult lifestyle, but it is the only option for many to be able to receive an education.

Violence within families is not unknown to the people of the region. It is commonplace to hear of abusive fathers who regularly beat their wives and neglect their children. Statistics show that this only becomes more frequent with age. Moreover, it is not uncommon to hear of a man fathering more than one family with different women.

The prevalence of this abuse and the attitudes at its base serve only to perpetuate a cycle of sin and violence that typically passes behind closed doors. Children grow up too quickly only to become immature adults.  Many children are forced to work too quickly; not allowing them to have their childhood.  Others move quickly to be independent in order to survive. Young boys have no vision of authentic manhood and only learn how to continue the abuse they suffered. Young girls and women do not encounter the respect they deserve and become accustomed to the victimization they have always known.

Despite an abundantly common perception within the region that a couple that forms a family should be married by the Church and the State, the amount of couples who do neither but still have children is staggering. Many couples never take their union to anything beyond cohabitation.

The family, lived according to God’s Plan, is a school of humanity, of relationships and of love. It is commonly considered the nucleus of society. It is no surprise then that many of the relational ruptures among the people of the region can find their root in the anti-values that have infiltrated its members. Unless values that respect the dignity of the human person find their way into the family, many of the sufferings among the people will only continue. A solid apostolate to the family is among the most urgent endeavors of the Prelature of Ayaviri.