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Ethiopia – Staying at home, standing by kids who don't have a home

23 March 2020

(ANS - Addis Ababa) - The health emergency generated by the spread of coronavirus has truly no boundaries. It has already been a week that precautionary measures have also been taken in Ethiopia and the authorities have decided to close schools and leave students at home. For this same reason, the four Salesians of the community of "Don Bosco Children" in Addis Ababa have also closed the school, but they didn't leave the students at home, but rather asked teachers and instructors to stay home, because the street children who attend the "Don Bosco Children" have no home, or rather, the Salesian house is their only home.

"We no longer go out on the streets at night in search of kids: too risky," said Fr Angelo Regazzo, a Salesian missionary, over seventy-five of age, who has been stationed in Ethiopia for over 30 years and is still always active with the energy of a young lad. Last Monday, March 16, however, he did make several trips by bus to bring in as many kids as possible and to help them in this emergency. "Don Bosco would have done the same," says the missionary.

During this period of quarantine, at the "Don Bosco Children" manual works have been organized, such as special classes, sports tournaments, music, offering educational films to view... And basic goods are not a problem. "We have enough food, water, diesel to run the generators, water pumps and refrigerators for several months. We have plenty of soap to wash ourselves, alcohol to disinfect ourselves, paracetamol and First Aid medicines ... Nobody goes outside the fence and those few who enter, such as guardians, cooks and social workers, have to wash their hands with soap at the entrance and disinfect their shoes with bleach and alcohol," continues the Salesian.

The Salesians celebrate daily Mass and find their strength in the Pious Practices in an emergency situation such as this. “We invite the boys, almost all Muslims and Orthodox, to pray according to their religious beliefs. And we urge them to be happy and believe in life, so we are convinced that everything will be fine," adds Fr Regazzo.

The concern of the Salesians is for those outside. "Looking out of the fence, unfortunately, one notices no change in people's behavior. Thousands upon thousands of people coming and going. Open restaurants and shops, crowded banks and supermarkets, very intense traffic ... The general attitude of people seems to be aimed at business, as usual. I don't know until when, because the numbers of the infected are growing day by day."

Fr Regazzo concludes by expressing condolences to those who have lost their loved one because of coronavirus. "I wish that you may all return to normal soon and enjoy the sea and the mountains. For now, we have the opportunity to taste the hearth of home and pray together. We all needed it so much."

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