The project thus intends to respond to Pope Francis' appeals for compassion towards refugees and asylum seekers and "to recognize and welcome the Lord Jesus among the smallest and most vulnerable"; it also answers to the invitations of the Rector Major to the Salesian Family in Europe to look for practical ways to offer assistance regarding the refugee crisis, paying "particular attention to unaccompanied minors and young people."
Exclusion, uncertainty and, unfortunately, hostility, have serious repercussions, especially on young refugees and asylum seekers, who may become trapped in new societies and be with limited possibilities to rebuild their lives. A holiday, for its part, can offer a sense of freedom and normality, that is what young refugees and asylum seekers rarely experience.
The GBR Salesian Youth Ministry team met in November to start planning and developing this project, which is expected to actually take place from 3 to 10 August 2019 in Liverpool.
Danny Sweeney, one of the team members, said: “For this pilot program we thought of Liverpool because it is one of the areas where asylum seekers are dispersed to after initially raising their claim. As this is a new area for our Salesian Youth Ministry, this experience will allow us to take root in a local community, and also, we hope, encourage contact with families, as well as with the young people who will participate.”
Support to taking root and becoming part within and of the community will come from local members of the Salesian Family who are involved in schools or working directly with young asylum seekers in the area.
The team of volunteers and organizers is truly intent on reaching these young people, whose childhood has been upset by war and persecution, and who have suffered the trauma of having to flee their homes to reach a foreign place, where their reception is often uncertain and unknown.
The managers of the "Valdocco Project" hope that it will have long-term effects, providing a basis for young refugees and asylum seekers "to build their lives in a positive way and to be able to fit responsibly into society", as the Framework Reference prescribes of Salesian Youth Ministry.