The Salesians are active all over the world, including in the city where Jesus grew up, Nazareth. The Salesian presence here includes an involvement in the Nazareth school, which offers primary and elementary education, as well as vocational training.

It was in 1950 that the school first begun teaching specialized courses in carpentry, mechanics and electronics and after educational reforms in 2002, it underwent a transformation and became a technological high school.

But what can the role of the school be to help the children of Nazareth in their growth path? Before the more strictly lessons and knowledge character of education, Fr Saggiotto starts from the human aspect.

"The only 'hold' that can come from school is to get to know the children personally," he explains. "I used to go on the staircase every day and look the kids in the eye and greet them. Often they come from difficult situations or from family conflicts, and personal contact with them is essential to understand who is most in difficulty and to open a dialogue. We have cases of boys who have attempted suicide, or girls who are victims of violence, problems that can only be solved by closeness."

"Some of our past pupils attend the best Israeli universities, especially for Engineering and Technology-oriented specializations. But here we also work a lot on human values, on the relationships between Christians and Muslims and between Muslim Christians and Jews."

There is an oratory affiliated with the Salesian precense in Nazareth, however it is open only to Christians and hosts about 80 children over 14 for Friday afternoon activities and about 200 children on Saturday, animated by the older ones.

From Australia all the way to Israel, foosball and table tennis tables are a common ingredient in many oratories!!!

Abir Shajrawi is among the young people who attend the oratory. 24 years old, today a student of Medical Sciences in Jerusalem, at her last year of university with plans to continue her studies in medicine and to specialize abroad.

"I'm an animator of the oratory especially with girls, in the time that I remain free from study," she explains. "This center is my second home. I've been coming here since I was very young. Today when I work with children I see them happy, and this makes me happy in turn."

Similar is the path of Yousef Noufi, 23, who attends the two-year course in Mechanical Engineering and helps his uncle in his carpentry business: "I take care of the activities of the youngest in sports," he says. "I'm committed to the oratory because when I was a child I received love, respect, dignity from the animators. And today I feel compelled to do the same for the new generations."

Where divisions and fear generate suspicion, the Salesian smile still manages to work small miracles in the life of young people!

ANS logo
Republished from ANS