(ANS – Kafroun) – A history of suffering, certainly, like all those concerning refugees during wars; but also a love story, of a family steadfast in difficulties; a story of fidelity to one’s own values on the part of a Christian and Salesian family; a story of gratitude, that of many people towards them and their work: all this is the story of Johnny and Georgette, a married couple of Salesian Cooperators who, after fleeing Aleppo in the hardest months of the war in Syria, led, for eight years, the first lay-run work in the whole Middle East Province (MOR), that is, the retreat house the Salesians own in the mountainous region of Kafroun. Now Johnny and Georgette, together with their children, have been able to return to their Aleppo; but not before having received heartfelt thanks from the Sons of Don Bosco in Syria.
It has been over 8 years since this family left Aleppo, due to the harshness of the war and its consequences, both material and psychological. It was 2012 when they abandoned their home and their belongings, taking with them what was their only daughter at the time. At that moment they could not have known that Providence had a special assignment for them.
On arriving in Kafroun, in fact, the two Salesian Cooperators Johnny Ghazi and Georgette Deek were invited to take on the responsibility of managing the Salesian house there. And they, in a spirit of service to the Lord and always maintaining the typically Salesian family atmosphere, welcomed the proposal and accompanied all the initiatives: catechism, summer activities, formation meetings, welcoming groups of visitors who constantly coming to the center – born, indeed, as a monastery for camps…
About two weeks ago, during a visit to the work, the Provincial of MOR, Fr Alejandro León, celebrated a Eucharist in which he wanted to publicly thank them for their ministry and their good administration in this time during which they gave the example of Christian and Salesian laity, committed in the Church and in society, with young people.
After their service in Kafroun, now Johnny and Georgette are back with their two daughters in Aleppo.
Today, therefore, this message arrives from the Salesian community in Syria:
“Despite the many difficulties, they lived this service with honesty, joy and sacrifice. Furthermore, theirs was the first experience in the Middle East Province, in which lay people of the Salesian Family were given the opportunity to live Salesian spirituality with high responsibility, hand in hand with consecrated Salesians, as Don Bosco wanted, a single family for a single objective: the salvation of souls. On behalf of the Salesians, young people, Salesian Families and Cooperators in the Middle East, we say to you: ‘Thank you, Johnny and Georgette!'”
ANS – Agency of Salesian News