Ethiopia – 24 hours a day at school with the Salesians. Thus young people at risk during confinement are "reborn"

24 June 2020

(ANS - Addis Ababa) - Ethiopia closed schools and universities for the pandemic three months ago. All at home, even the teachers of the Salesian technical school in Addis Ababa, the heart of the "Bosco Children", directed by Fr Angelo Regazzo. But he had a problem. Indeed, a hundred. “We could not send the children gathered from the streets of Addis Ababa to the streets, they who had not yet finished the rehabilitation process to be reintegrated into their families. We would have lost them,” explains the Salesian, who opted for a radical choice. General lockdown: Salesians, young people, cooks, social workers, guardians and some workers, including the driver. All inside.

“It was forbidden to go out and those very few who could go out and come back, including the driver, had to disinfect and wash thoroughly at the entrance gate. In this way, we have been able to stay healthy to date, but we must not let our guard down,” he explains.

The confinement at the "Bosco Children" was organized in such a way that the kids were busy 24 hours a day: school, library, computer school, sports, manual work, projection of educational videos, drawing competitions, language study.

“As the days passed, some kids became nervous and asked to reunite with their family or some close relative. After informing ourselves about who they were going to live with, we gave them permission. They would return at the end of the emergency.” Those who left also received financial help because, says the priest, “the families of origin are already very poor.”

But the majority preferred to stay and face a quarantine that immediately became an educational opportunity. Meanwhile, outside, the virus was spreading. After a month in which it appeared that Covid-19 had disdained Ethiopia, according to official statistics of June 24, there are 75 victims and 4,848 infections. The government has decided not to impose the lockdown on the capital to prevent poverty from leading to starvation in the peripheries but some parts of the metropolis have been isolated and “unfortunately there is great irresponsibility on the part of people who do not keep their distance physical and do not wear a mask. The police have begun to make arrests and give high fines,” adds the Salesian.

"Bosco Children" is also helping those outside the fence. Thousands of street children have been collected by the Federal Police in large Assistance Centers and are also assisted with the help collected by Fr Regazzo.

But the strongest sign is certainly the surgical mask factory set up in the tailoring workshop. “So far we have made and distributed about 15,000 of them. Every two or three days our driver with the pickup truck brings all these goods to the street children in the Assistance Centers and to many other poor people. We also rescued the street boys and girls of the Prison-Reformation who are in dire need because of Covid-19.”

Paolo Viana

Source: Avvenire


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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