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UKRAINE: Salesians provide ‘seed of hope’

Father Daniel Antúnez, president of Don Bosco Missions in Italy

Projects from Don Bosco Missions in Italy help refugees, displaced people impacted by war

(MissionNewswire) Father Daniel Antúnez, president of Don Bosco Missions in Italy, recently returned from a trip to visit projects in Slovakia, Poland and Ukraine*. Salesians have been providing direct support for those who have fled Ukraine at the start of the war and those displaced inside the country.

He explained, “These missions are the tangible sign — we want to be militants for peace in response to those who generate war and violence. Weapons and bombs cause the loss of human dignity and do not allow people to recognize a brother or sister in the other.”

Since the start of the war, Salesians in Italy have been offering their support. The Motherhouse in Valdocco was used for mothers, children and pregnant women who fled the war. A few men who were unable to fight because of their age or disability also stayed there.

Salesians have also been working with local Ukrainian authorities to aid those internally displaced. Fr. Antúnez said, “Our interventions are tailored to the needs of the communities we serve. For example, a van was purchased that the Salesians in Krakow, Poland, use to bring goods to Ukraine and return with those who wish to escape. In addition, the houses supported by the Salesians in various locations in the country have been converted into centers to operate relief efforts.”

Salesian International Volunteering for Development (VIS) volunteers are also supporting the Salesian centers. They have a wealth of experience in conflict zones. Fr. Antúnez explained, “We have gained a lot of experience in high-risk areas such as Syria* and Tigray*, where equally devastating wars have created death and destruction and the flight of millions of refugees. During my visit, I was struck by the resilience of the people. I was excited to visit the Salesians in Lviv who provide support for many orphans. There is also a soccer team for soldiers who have been wounded in battle. The team provides physical and psychological rehabilitation for those soldiers.”

Fr. Antúnez also visited Mariapolis, a container village set up by Salesians that has provided shelter for more than 950 displaced people, including more than 300 youth. From there, he went to Kyiv where a project supported by Don Bosco Missions is helping to protect residents with a missile shelter. Fr. Antúnez added, “The next project we have is to house and support people with physical and mental disabilities as a result of the war.”

He concluded, “This trip made me understand in depth how important it is to support this community affected by war and to show them our empathy. Our Christian life invites and moves us to be close to those who suffer. It is a priority for Don Bosco Missions. We want to continue to be a seed of hope.”



ANS – Italy – Fr Antúnez (Don Bosco Missions): “In Ukraine we are militants for peace”

Don Bosco Missions Italy

Salesian Missions

UNHCR – Ukraine Statistics

*Any goods, services, or funds provided by Salesian Missions to programs located in this country were administered in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control.

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