A beautiful home, the warm place of welcome and of one's own security, reduced to a pile of rubble; the objects of one's daily life reduced to mute witnesses to missile attacks: this is the sad experience of Erika, a girl from Irpin', in the Kyiv region, who with her family lost everything she had. It is the sad experience of thousands of Ukrainian families.
"My dream has become easier than before. But it seems so difficult to achieve. I just want to go home, I really want to go home," Erika testifies to the Salesians involved in helping the needy.
Even today, after more than 10 months of war, the Salesian Coordination for Emergency Response in Ukraine is committed to helping Erika and those in her situation: through the delivery of humanitarian aid and basic necessities and goods; in sheltering in the least at-risk places in Ukraine and neighboring countries; and by offering psycho-social support, job guidance to refugees, recreational and educational activities to minors who have fled the war, language courses in foreign countries...
Salesian efforts have not gone unnoticed; indeed, in several cases, they have even received public acknowledgments. As was the case in Slovakia, where last month Fr. Peter Jacko, Vicar of the Salesian Province "Mary Help of Christians" (SLK) symbolically received the "Biela vrana" award "for a socially useful and courageous civic act" - a definition meant to pay tribute to all those who in some way contributed to helping Ukrainian refugees during the most difficult time of the war in Ukraine.
"This award is given as a thank you to the rare people around us who are willing to stand up for truth and justice, who have demonstrated civic courage through a concrete act, who have suppressed personal interests in the name of the public good, values or principles, and who may have taken risks, various hardships or suffered convictions," explained the initiators of the initiative in awarding the prize.
Indeed, the Sons of Don Bosco, with the other groups of the Salesian Family present in the country, many young people and lay people have done and are continuing to do a great deal for the Ukrainian population in need. Since September, the Salesian NGO "Savio," part of the "Don Bosco Network," has been coordinating the humanitarian aid of the national Salesian Family, and through fundraisers and various initiatives financing housing and care for mothers with children present in Slovakia, supporting the pressing needs of Salesian Family communities in Ukraine, and purchasing material aid for communities in Slovakia caring for people from Ukraine.
And as for the Sons of Don Bosco directly, they are still caring for 13 of the 47 Ukrainian orphan minors taken in after running away from the Salesian Family home in Lviv - while the others were able to return to that city to resume their studies; those left behind are the youngest of the group and in recent months have made huge strides in learning the language and social integration.
Moreover, the Salesian oratories and centers welcome about 300 children and young people aged 6 to 15, where twice a week two groups of 12 volunteers animate four recreational-educational courses: music class, dance class, creative workshops, and group games.
With thanks to ANS for this story