SYRIA: Salesian missionaries create two video documentaries highlighting their work in Syria and Lebanon
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries in the Middle East have published two video documentaries of their work in recent years. The video documentaries focus on the Salesian oratories in Damascus, Kafroun and Aleppo in Syria, and on the Salesian El Hessoun oratory and Al Fidar Vocational Training Center in Lebanon.
Despite ongoing conflict and instability, Salesian missionaries have continued their work with youth in Syria. Over the course of the last eight years since the outbreak of civil war began in March 2011, Salesian missionaries have operated three centers in Kafroun and the particularly high conflict areas of Aleppo and Damascus. Each of the centers is staffed by three Salesian priests and a deacon.
The centers have been in operation since well before the start of the war providing educational classes, meeting space, and social development and sporting activities for youth and their families. The centers also offer trauma counseling, emergency shelter, nutritious meals and medical referrals to those in need.
“Living in a state of war is something that is not learned during initial formation. You learn it by living in these areas, day after day,” says Father Mounir Hanachi, director of the Salesian Damascus community, which is operated by four Salesian priests from different backgrounds.
Nearly 1,300 boys attend the Salesian oratory in Damascus. Most of the boys have faced painful and difficult situations. They come together at the oratory to share a journey of faith, but also to be together and share moments of leisure.
In addition, the Salesian oratory in Aleppo has remained open even when the war raged on. Thousands of young Christians and youth from other religious backgrounds gather together for catechism, sports, summer activities and after-school activities. “When we realized that this war would last a long time, we felt it was our duty to look even more closely after the young children of Aleppo,” says Father Pier Jabloyan, director of the Salesian oratory.
In Kafroun, where the rebels have never arrived, the climate is decidedly quieter than in cities like Damascus or Aleppo. Here Salesian missionaries have been providing programs since 2009. The work is carried out by volunteers, mostly parents of the children, who have been welcoming in families displaced by war.
The situation in Lebanon, where Salesian missionaries have been providing poor youth education and programs for 65 years, is more calm. The Al Fidar Vocational Training Center ensures that youth have the skills training they need to find and retain stable work.
In El Hessoun, there is a Catholic church, a reception center and the oratory, where young people are involved in games and educational activities. Educator Hanan Kandalaft explains, “The main mission is not just to let the children play, but to bring them to safety. As Don Bosco used to say, ‘the salvation of souls is the most important thing.’”
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