Colombia - Fr Rafael Bejarano: "We hope the peace process with FARC allows children to enjoy their status as children"

11 January 2018

(ANS - Medellín) - Fr Rafael Bejarano, SDB, is the Director of the  "Ciudad Don Bosco" house in Medellín. In recent years he has been fully involved in the development of the project: "Specialized Protection House - Building Dreams." Its aim is to help the social reintegration of Colombian minors recruited by armed groups, deprived and violated of their human rights.

Once a child or teenager decides to leave the guerrilla, where does he end up?

When the child decides to leave the armed group, he turns to some institution that takes care of him. He is then handed over to a Family Councilor, who decides whether he goes to a guardian family, as tutors who help in his recovery, or to a specialized protection house, such as "Ciudad Don Bosco."

How does the child's stay in the project proceed?

The development of this process is determined by an institutional assistance project called the PAI (Individualized Attention Process), which puts Salesian charism into practice in the "Building Dreams" project. It has three phases. The first, called Pedagogy of Trust, plays out in the first 45 days of the minor's entry into the program; in this phase, the entire pastoral and educational community foster spaces of trust and bonds.

The second phase is known as the Pedagogy of Hope, implementation of the action plan with each child or teen, that is, to create a favorable environment for activities such as academic training, vocational training, human formation via workshops on themes such healthy lifestyles, family counselling, personal development and empowerment, being a citizen, and also spiritual formation - according to precepts of the Salesian Youth Ministry.

Finally, there is the stage of the Alliance Pedagogy. Every time a minor enters the "Building Dreams" project, he is also prepared for his leaving the project in a satisfactory fashion.

In the end, thanks to the path of vocational training, once at work, the boys and girls are tied to the different companies collaborating with Ciudad Don Bosco and who bet on their reintegration as an important factor to their continuing to grow in peace.

How does contact with the families take place?

Family reinsertion is another important factor in the "Building Dreams" project, as some of these children have abandoned their families and family ties, but want to recover them and advance reconciliation and forgiveness.


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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