At first glance, it might seem like a normal Salesian youth camp, one of the many organized by Salesian youth centers and oratories throughout Europe; but just pay a little attention and you realize that all the posters are in Arabic! The reason is very simple: it is the first camp for young people of the Middle East in Salesian environments, mostly Syrians, who live as refugees in various European countries.
The Middle East Province (MOR), with the support of the World Confederation of Past Pupils of Don Bosco and the German Province, organized the first “Meet” of young refugees in Benediktbeuern, Germany, from 21 to 26 August. The work, coordinated by Fr Munir El Rai, developed the theme: “You too can be a saint”.
Under the motto of sanctity, therefore, about 35 young people from Spain, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, Sweden and Italy met again three, four or five years since the last time, that is, since when the war forced them to leave their homes in Aleppo, Damascus or Kafroun.
The life and integration of the young people who have had to leave their homeland has not been easy and on many occasions European societies have not helped them. In this sense, Fr El Rai observed: “This meeting is a reunion with oneself, a time to pray and set aside the difficulties, and give these children the opportunity to support their strong Salesian identity that war and the condition of refugees have put to the test.”
Activities and sports, musical and spiritual animation, walks in the woods and a cultural trip to Munich were the main activities these young people experienced over six intense days. Furthermore, the Strenna of the Rector Major for 2019 was presented to them in detail, “Holiness for you, too” as was the specific identity of the Past Pupil of Don Bosco.
On Saturday, August 24th, the young people of the Middle East had a dialogue with the Provincial of Germany, Fr Reinhard Gesing, and with the “Consultive Body of Young Past Pupils of Europe”, which was preparing the activities of Don Bosco’s young Past Pupils for the next two years.
During the “Meet” some of the young people shared very difficult personal stories, which emotionally moved the group. Now for the Salesians the most important thing is to accompany them and help them in the places where they live, so that they can find Salesian support in their daily life in Europe.