The damage in Syria has been profound and the Salesian response has been immediate

"We have lived through more than 10 years of war, but perhaps these moments are the most terrible because of the terror we’ve experienced... We cannot describe what we have experienced" says Joelle Klzi, animator of the Salesian oratory in Aleppo, Syria.

Yet these are also people with great resilience, who manage to find even in this situation the ability to thank those who have done so much for them, such as the Sons of Don Bosco. "The Salesians have opened their doors; we have not lacked anything... We thank them from the bottom of our hearts because, in addition to material support, there has been moral support," says Judy Elia, a young woman from Aleppo.

Since Feb. 6, and continuing in the following days, the Social Communication Delegation of the Salesian Province "Jesus Adolescents" Middle East (MOR) has collected several testimonies from the young survivors welcomed to the "Don Bosco" center in Aleppo. From their words emerge both the fear of the very first moments, but also the solidarity experienced and the sense of relief of being together under the Salesian embrace.

< Members of the local community have testified about the terror they witnessed

For example, little Micho narrates, "It was a terrible earthquake: we woke up gripped with fear and waited for the tremors to end because the walls were falling. We went down, there was a lot of rain, and we slept outside the house. But now I'm not afraid, because I'm at 'Don Bosco' playing with my friends."

"We were in bed when it happened, and within seconds we were down on the street," shares young Judy Elia, a dentist. "We didn't take anything with us. Our only concern was getting away, far from home. We looked for an open place, away from the buildings, in a very difficult situation, because it was also raining (...). And since the day of the earthquake, we’ve been here. The Salesians have opened their doors, we have not lacked anything. They have given us blankets, mattresses, three meals a day... We thank them from the bottom of our hearts because in addition to material support, there has been moral support."

"What we experienced was too much! We went down the street barefoot, we were running, we were in the rain, we didn’t have adequate clothing... We stayed like that from 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. We were so afraid," Nadia Ebed, a housewife, still recalls with anguish. Relief, however, came from "Don Bosco Aleppo," where, the woman concludes, "we were welcomed along with a lot of people."

On the efforts of the Salesians and their collaborators, Stephanie Sultanem, a medical student, these days working at the Salesian oratory, spoke. "After the earthquake, we set up a medicine collection point for the large number of people who are among us. It's to serve people because so many people have run away from home without being able to get medicine and can no longer return because of the insecurity of the facilities."

The trials that thousands of people in Syria today are facing are indeed extreme: "I don't know to what extent people can look to the future with hope, especially after long years of war," reports Joelle Klzi at the end of her talk. However, he concludes, "I only know that the Lord has saved us from certain death."

Salesian Missions has announced an emergency appeal to provide aid for where it is needed most in Syria.

With thanks to ANS for this story