GERMANY: Young refugee succeeds in new community thanks to Don Bosco Youth Help Center
(MissionNewswire) Throughout Germany, Salesian missionaries operate several projects and facilities for young refugees who have sought asylum and arrived in the country without their family. The goal is to help these youth with their daily lives and assist with finding them a home and employment, along with integrating them into their new communities.
Across Germany, there are nearly 500 young refugees accommodated in Salesian institutions, with 100 of them in Munich and Nuremberg. Most of the refugees accessing Salesian programs are youth between 16 and 18 years old who come from African countries or from Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.
Salesian missionaries and their network of programs across Europe are part of a network of organizations headquartered in Portugal that helps European countries with the refugee crisis. Salesian programs provide humanitarian and educational assistance to refugees by helping them become fully-integrated and independent within their new countries and homes.
One young man who accessed Don Bosco Youth Help Center in Sannerz, Germany was 15-year-old Abdullah. He has been kidnapped by a Pakistani Taliban terrorist organization who aimed to train him as a suicide bomber. Only three days after being kidnapped, Abdullah bravely managed to escape from an open window. He immediately headed for Europe, covering a distance of 5,000 kilometers to his freedom. He recalls that he traveled for 45 days by car, by train and then on foot.
After arriving in Frankfurt’s refugee center, Abdullah was sent to the Don Bosco Youth Help Center house in Sannerz. Before he arrived at the Don Bosco center, the local director of the refugee center had made contact with the Riedberg Sports Club, an association in Frankfurt where, in addition to football, basketball and rugby, cricket is also offered and played. Cricket is Abdullah’s favorite sport.
Now, several times a week Abdullah travels by train to the capital to practice or to play with the Riedberg Cricket team. He’s been able to maintain a bit of his home life in his new community. He proudly shows a cup given to him by two cricket stars who came from Afghanistan for the award. On the trophy the inscription reads, “Best Pitcher.”
At the Don Bosco Center, Abdullah also shows his skills at the sports field. At bat, he strikes the hard leather ball and his eyes shine with confidence. Since arriving in Germany, Abdullah has graduated from junior high school and also attended several German language courses. He is now attending the second year of a vocational training course in carpentry.
“At the moment, as part of our integration project, nine young people from Sannerz are attending courses for carpenters, painters and metallurgical workers. Donors have helped provide the funding for the project,” says Father Clemens Schliermann, the director and head of the project.
Abdullah has been able to keep in regular contact with his family by phone. His family also had to leave Afghanistan for their safety. While he is able to connect with his mother, sisters and four of his five brothers, the family has no idea where the father and one of his brothers are. Abdullah believes that they too may have been kidnapped by the Taliban.
“Salesian missionaries are working across Europe helping to provide needed services for the new wave of refugees arriving in these countries,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “In countries around the globe, Salesian missionaries are assisting close to 400,000 refugees and internally displaced persons whose lives have been affected by war, persecution, famine and natural disasters such as floods, droughts and earthquakes. Salesian programs provide refugees much needed education and technical skills training, workforce development, health care and nutrition.”
Photo courtesy INFOANS