Egypt - Schools, oratories, outskirts: Salesian presence in Egypt

11 October 2017

(ANS - Cairo) - High-quality vocational schools, oratories also appreciated by young Muslims, and services to refugees and the needy in a context of great poverty: these are the salient features of the Salesian presence in Egypt, between Alexandria and the capital, Cairo.

The Salesians boast more than a hundred years of presence in Egypt. In Alexandria, the Salesian House was founded by Fr Rua, the Successor of Don Bosco, 121 years ago, in 1896, to provide education to the many Italians migrants who lived there. Today, the "Don Bosco" school in Alexandria is daily attended by about 900 pupils; on offer, from elementary to vocational training, the institute is recognized, and partially funded, by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The peculiar element of this home is that it is attended almost exclusively by young Muslims who recognize, with their parents, that Don Bosco and his educational system are a great gift for them, too. The courtyards and playgrounds of the Salesian House, when the students leave in the afternoon, do not remain silent and empty for long; to bring life and happiness to the playgrounds are the children of the day oratory; the animators are, too, also all Muslims.

The Salesian presence in Cairo has similar features: there is an excellent vocational school, also recognized by the Italian State, and it is attended by nearly 800 students from across the country. Also in Cairo, when there are no lessons, the courtyards are filled with teens – this time, for young Christians so they they, too, may be allowed to grow not only in social life but also in the Christian faith in a country wherein they are a minority, and often marginalized. Indicative is the fact that a whole Christian neighborhood rises on a landfill and waste area; the population survives by collecting waste and reselling recyclable materials.

Egypt's third Salesian center is in Cairo's peripheral district of Zaitun. The Salesians have been present there for about 30 years with an oratory, a youth center, and now a parish, and their ministry is directed to Sudanese refugees and street children.

Among the Sudanese, baptisms are numerous, and catechism is followed by all the children. Sunday Mass lasts no less than two hours, and are animated by songs and dances accompanied by traditional drums. The street children here are Egyptians and the educational team follows about seventy.

Further information at the "Don Bosco Missions" website.


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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