In recent years, the Salesian oratory of Aleppo has continued to be a point of reference for the youngsters and families who frequent it. "At the beginning of the war, in 2012, we were forced to close it for six months. But when we realized that the conflict would last a long time, we decided to reopen. There was no other way: staying closed in their houses, the children would have gone crazy," explains the center's young Director, himself from Aleppo, Fr Pier Jabloyan.
Among the many activities maintained, the after-school program is aimed at about 70 children, organized by involving about a dozen university students: "There are enormous educational needs," the Salesian continues. "Many schools have been destroyed or transformed into shelters ... Moreover, if one has no water in the house, no electricity and has difficulty feeding himself, it is hard to tell anybody to study. But Don Bosco teaches us that education means the future. This is why we have resisted, offering our children what we had: our spaces, our snack, the effort and commitment of our young people."
The war has also caused numerous injuries in those who have survived the violence. Fr Jabloyan said, "In everyone, the war has created psychological problems. The threshold of sensitivity has risen a lot: the news of one or two dead is in danger of not having any more effect. Often boys express themselves harshly and sometimes a football match can become a pretext for aggression to explode. Here, too, we try to accompany them and help them remember that they are better than what surrounds them, as many times they have shown us."
The Facebook page "Don Bosco Aleppo" is a valid testimony of the many activities of the oratory and of the Salesian commitment to offer a normality made up of moments of prayer, liturgical feasts, music, shows ...
"This is our style," concludes Fr Jabloyan, "to focus on beauty and on coming together, meeting".