Syria – Lay people co-responsible in Salesian mission: Johnny and Georgette

(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

Lebanon – Salesian oratory is an oasis of peace in context of crisis

(ANS – El-Houssoun) – Organized by the Salesians in Lebanon, the Youth South Camp in the mountain house of El-Houssoun (Byblos district) is increasingly revealing itself to be an oasis of peace, serenity and conviviality in what is a dramatic social, political and economic context, one that is unprecedented in the centennial history of modern Lebanon.

About 800 boys and girls are involved: Lebanese, Syrian and Iraqi, with dozens of volunteer animators, adequately trained. Syrians and Iraqis are all refugees, residing in Lebanon for several years: Syrians are waiting to be able to return to their country, while Iraqis are waiting to be welcomed in a third country. While the Syrians are all Muslims and the Iraqis Christians, the Lebanese are mixed, but the vast majority are Christians, in accordance with the area’s demographics and live within a radius of 10-15 km from the Salesian center. Syrian children also reside in the area; Iraqis, on the other hand, reside in the suburbs of Beirut, more than 40 km away. For all of them, transportation is guaranteed, as well as the daily distribution of a sandwich and refreshments.

Never had the Salesian house in El-Houssoun known such a crowded Summer Camp, even if the daily attendance is divided into the days of the week according to the nationality and age of the participants (from 6 to 15 years).

A collective or group educational and recreational program forms the core, flanked by moments of free playful activities, especially sports.

“It’s impressive to see the joy that shines on the faces of children and adolescents and the enthusiasm they put into participating in the various activities offered,” they write from the Oratory. “Even Muslim girls who wear the veil put aside their traditional reserve to leave involve the atmosphere that surrounds them,” they add. All this strongly contrasts with the climate currently dominant in the country: mistrust, poverty and, not infrequently, misery, unemployment, galloping devaluation of the Lebanese pound, instability and sometimes insecurity, lack of basic products, medicines and the most basic social services. From day to day, in a crisis that has lasted for two years, aggravated by the terrible explosion in the port of Beirut (4 August 2020), there is no glimmer of light.

Sowing joy, trust and giving hope, as well as providing concrete help, remains the primary objective of and for the children of Don Bosco in the current situation in Lebanon. The day is expected when the light shall eventually triumph and then Lebanon will once again become the “message country” described by Pope Saint John Paul II.

ANS – Agency of Salesian News

Fr Caputa introduces Simone Srugi

(ANS – Beitgemal) – The Salesian Fr Giovanni Caputa, former professor of Theology in Cremisan and Jerusalem (1980-2017), has since 2014 been a collaborator in the cause of beatification of Venerable Simone Srugi, a Salesian brother who was a central figure for the Salesians of the Middle East. Fr Caputa recently wrote a new book in Italian on Simone Srugi (Simone Srugi nella storia di Betgamāl), and today he illustrates the history of the Venerable and the value of this publication.

It is not your first book on Srugi. What’s new in this one?

In 2018 I published Vita e scritti di Simone Srugi (Life and Writings), which contains all the documentation. In this last book, I better frame one and the others in their historical context, that is, the hundred years between the reconstitution of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem (1847) and the partition of Palestine (1947). It was part of a region that during that century completely changed aspect, from a political, socio-economic, cultural and religious point of view … The maps and the “photo gallery”, which complete the volume, help to offer a better picture.

Against that background, the life and action of Srugi stand out; after his childhood in Nazareth and the years of apprenticeship in Bethlehem (nurse, tailor and baker), he made his religious profession as a Salesian brother (1896) and carried out his mission for 50 years in Betgamāl. In this out-of-the-way and malarial locality, the Salesians welcomed Palestinian orphans, Armenian, Lebanese, Syrian refugees, and finally also Poles. They ran an agricultural school with an attached mill, olive oil press, canteen and medical-pharmaceutical dispensary. Simone was teacher and catechist of the little ones, master of ceremonies in the shrine of St Stephen and above all a nurse: the sick came to him by the dozen every day, from about fifty villages. It is estimated that he treated tens of thousands of poor sick people.

What did Srugi leave written?

He was not a writer; he was a practical, simple man, who loved to read Don Bosco’s books, manuals of piety… From them he transcribed short sentences, which he distributed in strips of paper to brothers and boys. They resemble today’s tweets.

Here are a few:

–      A “thank you to God” is worth more, a “God be blessed” in adversity, than a thousand thanks in prosperity.

–      God does things slowly, but He does them well.

–      Carry the cross of each day every day with the grace of each day.

–      The cross, if it is loved, is only half a cross, because the love of Jesus softens everything, and one does not suffer much, except when one loves little.

–      It is more worth raising a straw out of obedience than fasting a Lent by one’s own election.

–      You do not have to look for enemies in the town square, while the most bitter is hidden inside you, indeed, it is you. So look at your soul for yourself.

–      The happiness of pleasing God with doing all things well is a sage of heaven.

The book in Italian Simone Srugi nella storia di Betgamāl – Simone Srugi in the history of Betgamāl – will soon be included in the Salesian Digital Library (SDL).

   Agency of Salesian News

The bakery of the Salesians in Bethlehem helps the poor and needy

The ingredients of Salesian bread in Bethlehem are not only flour, water and yeast, but infinite quantities of mercy and generosity are also added to its dough, so the Salesian bakery in the city has become a point of reference in helping the poor and needy. P. LORENZO SAGGIOTTO Salesians of Bethlehem “In particularly difficult times such as the first and second intifada, this oven played an important role and provided an excellent service to the people. Also during the first and second Iraq war we helped many families poor. ” A relentless help even in this difficult time of the Coronavirus pandemic. P. LORENZO SAGGIOTTO Salesians of Bethlehem “Also in this period, from the outbreak of the pandemic until today, the bakery has not only given bread to the poorest families but also to institutions that need help to continue serving the people. “Among these institutions is the” Together for Life “Association of Bethlehem, which to help people with disabilities and who, due to the pandemic, no longer have any income, either from handicraft production or from donations. MAHERA GHARIB Director of “Together for Life” “We too depended on tourists visiting Bethlehem and we were affected as much as the entire tourism sector. The bread we receive is enough for about 55 people. For us it was a cost and the Salesians thus relieve us of this expense, above all because bread is fundamental in our Palestinian culture. We eat bread or rice; bread accompanies every meal. “Even the Bethlehem Association Beit Al Rajaa – “Casa Della Speranza” – for the blind and people with special needs was hit by the consequences of the Coronavirus: even for them, income depended on external support and tourists. The director of the Association, Salim Zeidan, thanks the Salesians for their help and for the quality of the bread. SALIM ZEIDAN Director Beit Al Rajaa – Bethlehem “Salesian bread lasts two or three days, but we can heat it and it comes back as if it had just come out of the oven. The Salesian oven is one of the oldest in the city and has always maintained the same quality as production.” BASMA GIACAMAN Supervisor of the Basma Center – Beit Sahour “Even if making bread seems a simple thing, for families who do not work and have no income, especially in periods of curfew,

Christian Media Center in Holly Land

Youth people on Cairo

Higher Education in the Salesian School in Cairo

Over the years the Don Bosco Industrial Technical Institute in Cairo has been a centre of excellence.

Every year it trains many young people as industrial experts, prepares them to enter the world of work and in this way helps Egypt to a high level of industrial development. In recent months, a number of innovative projects have been developed in the field of renewable energy. We listen to what the people involved have to say:

“In the past three months, the students of Don Bosco have been working on the development of two innovative prototypes to implement solar power. This project was carried out here at Don Bosco in cooperation with AFD, IECD, and Schneider Egypt in order to provide students with the tools and skills needed in the target market,” said the manager of the French Agency for Development.

An Egyptian manager of Schneider says: “The idea of the project is to teach students, the next generation of engineers, to be familiar with new technologies for the use of solar energy. Of course, we know well the shortcomings and difficulties of our country from an economic point of view and rising costs. This is why we are concerned about the next generation of engineers.”

One of the teachers in the school says: “I’m working on a project for a pump which will use the energy generated by the sun through panels, without the use of batteries. We will use it for soil or water or to fill a tank depending on the energy generated in such a way that when the pump has more energy it will produce more water.”

According to another teacher: “The second project is about how to provide a small house with solar energy, in addition to using the national power grid, depending on the availability of the sun.”

Finally, the students: Michael comments: “what is unique about this project is that for the first time we are using solar energy.” Mohammed added: “the use of solar energy will increase in the future and in addition it is a clean energy that does not pollute.” And Joseph concludes: “This project will help me to work better and faster with solar energy, because I had to deal with problem resolution, and this helped me to become a better technician.”