Even in this emergency, Salesian houses do not lose their connotation: most of their activities are directed towards education, socialization, and assistance in every dimension of the young person.
“First, our schools serve children during their normal hours of work,” explains Fr George Menamparampil, head of the Salesian General Coordination for Emergency Response. “Furthermore, our oratories are open for children every day and daytime activities. And in any case, the minors who currently reside in Salesian homes receive lodging, food, and all the help they need 24 hours a day, including education, recreation, and the care that every child or young person needs."
Salesian centers in Ukraine have all remained open. “We asked ourselves what we could do and decided to make ourselves available to the people, those who were living there and the refugees who’d arrive,” Fr Daniel Antúnez, president of "Missioni Don Bosco" of Turin, who visited Salesian works in Ukraine and Poland as part of this emergency, said to Avvenire, the Catholic daily newspaper.
Today, in Ukraine devastated by the bombings, about 680 minors - equal to 80% of the total - continue to attend classes at Salesian educational centers from a distance; oratories are still a corner of refuge and hope for 208 of them; and 70 children, teens, and young people are properly housed in the works of the Sons of Don Bosco - for a total of 958 minors.
In Poland, there are 398 minors placed in Salesian schools, 309 in oratories, and 210 welcomed into homes - for a total of 917.
In Slovakia, instead, there are 60 children in oratories and 50 welcomed into Salesian homes - another 110. Thus, the overall total in the three countries considered rises to 1,985 minors being supported.
From Moldova, there is no precise count of minors, but it can be said, however, that the Salesian house in Chișinău is currently hosting around forty refugees, and that since the beginning of the war the Salesian center has offered a space of refreshment and peace to over 1,000 people.
Because in the face of a tragedy as immense and senseless as war, the Sons of Don Bosco can only do their best to help physically and spiritually their neighbors, and among them in particular, minors. “We work to meet people's needs for food and housing,” concludes Fr Antúnez, not before renewing the typically Salesian invitation to pray to Mary Help of Christians: “She is the mother of our Congregation; Don Bosco said that if we pray to Mary Help of Christians, the miracle is certain.”