RMG – Two Years of Salesian Emergency Response in Ukraine

23 February 2024

(ANS – Rome) – We live in world in a constant humanitarian emergency, something that everybody is perceiving. The Salesian Family cannot ignore this reality and has acted accordingly to bring humanitarian relief and hope in some of the worst conflicts and Ukraine war is one clear example.

In 2018, after the approval by the General Council, it was published "Stream of Solidarity", in the Salesian manual for emergency response, which guides our actions. In line with it, the Rector Major, Card. Ángel Fernández Artime, took the initiative of appointing a global coordinator, Fr. MC George (today succeeded by Fr. Eric Mairura) and activated the Global Emergency Response Mechanism. In these two years he has been following the work of the International Coordination (Missions Sector and Don Bosco Network) and we thank him for his leadership and closeness.

From the information we are constantly receiving in the International Coordination from the coordination centre located in Warsaw (Poland) and the Provinces in Ukraine, we testify that the work of the Salesians, Salesian Sisters and lay people in all the Salesian Houses in Ukraine is quite commendable. There has been enormous assistance and support that has been received through this period from neighbouring countries as well. An example of this is the Provincial House in Warsaw, which continues to welcome mothers with their young children (babies when they left Ukraine) and who live with the Salesians, as if they were an adoptive family.

Thanks to the help of SDB, FMA, members of the Salesian family, collaborators and of donors from other countries, we have managed to keep our Ukrainian brothers and sisters' schools open, even building shelters so that they can continue to educate, even though the bombing alarm bells are ringing.

Nobody knows when this war will end, but we are in the middle of the second winter, and for more than two months now, we have been receiving and coordinating requests for help to cope with the winter: warm clothes, shoes and fuel in various forms.

Imaginative solutions have even been devised, such as that of the Bishop of Kiev-Zhytomyr, Vitaliy Krivitskiy, who has organised “warm canteens” in his diocese, with the help of Salesian International Solidarity, where people can take refuge from the harsh Ukrainian winter; or the constant support for the more than a thousand internally displaced people who live in the "modular city" of Mariapolis, in Lviv, by UKR viceprovince.

But beyond material aid, this war is leaving a deep mark on the children and young people of Ukraine, and as Salesians we must pay special attention to the psychosocial sphere. Last summer, we managed to support a large number of pastoral and educational leisure activities, and since the beginning of this academic year there have been therapy centres in Zhytomyr and Lviv, supporting children and their families in dealing with trauma.

In this area, we want to support them by training educators in trauma management, so in April 2024, we will organise a course in Rome, delivered by UPS and IUSVE psychologists, for about 15 educators on how to manage post-traumatic stress situations and identify the problems of the children they work with. They will be joined by 11 educators from Syria, who have been living in a context of war for more than ten years.

But it doesn't end here, Salesian creativity makes its way in the most difficult contexts, and it is time to think about what to do with those young people who have had to go to the front and have returned crippled. To this end, the Salesians have prepared various initiatives, from adapted vocational training to the opening in Lviv of a project of “football with crutches”, which supports these young people in their return to civilian life.

From the Missions Sector and Don Bosco Network, we have witnessed the good work of all those involved in the Salesian Mission in Ukraine, and we have to work hard with so many Salesian Mission Offices and NGOs to ensure that the funds, which are limited, are used in the best way possible. After two years of war, more than 13 million euros have been deployed in some 175 projects in Ukraine and neighbouring countries. Thank you, once again to all those who have made it possible.

The canonization of Blessed Artemides Zatti by Pope Francis on Sunday, 9 October 2022, is a source of immense joy and gratitude to God. He was a professed member of the Salesian Society of St John Bosco, born on October 12, 1880 in Boretto (Italy). He died on March 15, 1951 in Viedma (Argentina). This life, written by Fr Pierluigi Cameroni, Postulator General, will help us to get to know the human and spiritual story of this son of Don Bosco.

These pages describe the places that Artemides lived in, the gestures and language with which he embodied the message of Gospel compassion and Salesian joy. Reading this text will give us some guidelines for interpreting the story of Artemides Zatti’s holiness – a man with a heart sensitive to grace, ears attentive to the voice of God and his will, and eyes open to the needs and miseries of so many brothers and sisters.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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