"Today we received yet another group of war-displaced people in our community of Don Bosco Shasha. We are trying to see how we can help them, they have fled leaving almost everything in their homes, and are in a very precarious situation. We need really to remain united in prayer for this situation which is going to continue." This is the current situation described by the Salesians present in the East Delegation of the Central Africa Province (AFC-EST).
On Thursday, 9 February 2023, forces from one of the warring parties entered the area of Kimoka, a village located 8 kilometers from the town of Sake, and just 20 kilometers from Shasha - itself some 40 kilometers away from Goma, proceeding southwest. "Around 10 a.m. there was a stampede in the area," describe the Sons of Don Bosco of AFC-EST in a message requesting help sent to the Salesian Congregation's Emergency Response Coordinator. "The parents of our students from the EP Don Bosco Shasha came and collected their children to get ready to move out. By 2 p.m. the displaced had settled on our grounds and in front of the classrooms. We opened the doors for them. On the first night alone, we took in 582 refugees from 89 households. How long will this situation last? Only God knows. Let us pray for peace in our country."
This is not the first time AFC-EST Salesians have faced similar crises. A similar situation is still unfolding in front of the "Don Bosco Ngangi" Center in Goma - which has seen thousands of displaced people on its grounds since late 2022. Indeed, local Salesians celebrated the feast of Don Bosco last Jan. 31 by sharing aid with the displaced people there. "We distributed to 300 families the boxes of rice received from the Salesian Missions, New Rochelle, U.S., and we gave out clothes and kitchen materials thanks to the funds received from our Mission Offices."
Since November 2022, the Salesians have started an activity of distributing porridge to children of the displaced camp showing signs of malnutrition at "Don Bosco Ngangi." Currently, with this activity, we give it to more than 350 children accompanied by their mothers, thanks also to the funds received from Don Bosco Mission in Bonn, and the collaboration with the Salesian NGO "Volontariato Internazionale per lo Sviluppo" (VIS).
"We say a big 'thank you' to all the people who are accompanying us to 'help us help' all these displaced people who are in a very precarious situation. And we continue with other activities according to the needs we identify in the camp," conclude the Salesians who are on the front lines of this humanitarian emergency.