Colombia - "International Day against use of child soldiers": "Ciudad Don Bosco" in Medellín, factory of peace ambassadors

12 February 2018

(ANS - Medellín) – Every year, on 12 February, the International Day against the use of child soldiers is celebrated. International organizations estimate there are over 250 thousand children who participate in a series of armed conflicts around the globe, far from their families and education. The Salesians work in various countries with former child soldiers, so that they may overcome the traumas of war and can reintegrate into society.

The "Ciudad Don Bosco" of Medellín is an example all over the world, thanks to its program "Building dreams", and its having managed to recover around 2,400 children since 2000, children who are now ambassadors and peace builders.

Catalina and Manuel are two heroes for all the children of the House of Specialized Protection (CAPRE, in Spanish) of Ciudad Don Bosco, Medellín. All of them have a common history: the war they participated in, of which they are now victims. But for Salesians the past does not matter; only the present and, above all, the future count, a future the minors will build in a process that begins with their removal from the armed groups, in a program that takes the evocative name of "Building dreams".

It has been a year since Catalina and Manuel traveled to Europe to present their testimony as minors and former guerilla soldiers of FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), but, especially, to speak of their process of redemption and forgiveness, of dreams, and of the future and the peace process their country is experiencing after more than half a century of conflict. Both took part in the documentary "Alto el fuego" of the Salesian Mission Office in Madrid and defined themselves as "ambassadors and builders of peace".

Wherever they have gone to speak, their audience has been deeply moved: before audiences in several Spanish cities, before accredited journalists at the Vatican's Holy See, or the deputies in Brussels and at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva.

Catalina has realized her dream of studying nursing. She lives together with four other girls in a protected home, with an independent environment, thanks to the Salesian program "Autonomy and Responsibility". Manuel, for his part, works in a large company, can pay the rent of the house where he lives and even bought himself a small motorcycle to go to work.

Source: Misiones Salesianas


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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