Saturday, July 8, first day: after a few quick pointers, students gathered in the school yard. The 370 Egyptian students participating in the classes are each called by name and divided by class. They listen to the speech of the Director, Fr Pietro Bianchi, who defines them as "white sheets of paper": it is not important what they did before, whether they are good or not; what is important is who they want to be and how they want to build their future in Don Bosco's school in Cairo.
Classes begin with the alphabet. The students repeat aloud, do exercises, and someone already tries to anticipate subsequent exercises. They really do want to do and learn!
On Sunday, instead, there are women who go to the Salesian center to attend an education course alongside Caritas volunteers who distribute clothes for the children. They sit in a circle, all veiled, talk, smile, listen to each other and share their lives in a simple fashion... In addition to being an educational site for young people, the Salesian house also offers space to their families; in this case, to mothers who are, indeed, the first teachers. Educating young generations does, after all, also mean providing support to their first educators.
On Friday, a festive day for Muslims, the school ends at noon and Christian children attend a formative session. "Do you know Don Bosco?" asks Fr Bianchi to about 150 students. No one knows him; they are Orthodox Christians.
So, in broad strokes, they try to depict the salient moments in the life of the Saint of the Young: Don Bosco's dream as a nine-year old boy, the opening of the oratory, the foundation of the Congregation, the first missionaries, the Salesian presence currently in more than 130 countries ...
Today, every child was able to understand they are entering a large family where the greatest concern is the salvation of their souls through education as a means to ensure a better future for themselves.
It was also a very emotional time for volunteers as the Director introduced them to the children, explaining the intentions that urged them to lend service during the summer in the Salesian House: to love young people in the style of Don Bosco.