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Lebanon - The Salesians, tried by difficulties, in solidarity with local youth and people

19 November 2019

(ANS - Beirut) - 100 years after the proclamation of the Greater Lebanon (1920) in its geographical and historical boundaries, the country, once considered the Switzerland of the Middle East, is going through one of the most delicate and difficult moments of its centennial history: a crisis, above all economic, but also social and political, which has pushed the local population to rise up and rebel against its leaders, to the point of asking that the whole political class go away. Something unheard of in a fragmented society, where political leaders, in some cases former lords of the interminable civil war (1975-1990), were mostly praised and followed almost blindly.

For a month now, the country has been living in a state of revolt that now borders on insurgency. The demonstrations have so far been relatively peaceful and sometimes managed with creativity, but the impatience of the people, faced with the lack of answers from those in charge and the ever-constant stalling while the crisis worsens day by day, is growing and the first acts of violence have been noted.

The country is virtually paralyzed due to the closure, complete or intermittently, of the main arteries, public offices, banks, universities, and schools with barricades. These recent phenomena weigh on already precarious social and economic difficulties: 30% of the population borders on the poverty line; the country hosts the highest percentage of refugees in the world - over a third of the population; the main social services are conspicuously lacking; infrastructures are obsolete …

In this situation, the flight of young people grows, many of whom are highly qualified, as they look for a job and a safe and better future.

In this context, the Salesian presence is expressed in two works: the vocational training high school of Al Fidar, on the coast, which is home to just over 200 students enrolled in various fields of study - automotive mechanics, electronics, electricity, information technology, physical education and sports, and culinary arts; and the oratory-youth center of El Houssoun, in the mountains, flanked by a reception center.

The Salesians are trying hard to make the school work, located as it is in a sensitive area, both at an educational and economic level, but the situation, especially economically, is getting worse day by day.

The oratory, located in a relatively quiet area, now functions regularly every Saturday, welcoming Lebanese children, mostly Christians. The Salesian mission also deals with Syrian and Iraqi refugees, the majority of whom live in Beirut at the center of the revolution.

Deeply united with the suffering people, the Salesians are involved in this economic effort to move forward, to counter resources already long diminished decreasing further, which risk overwhelming them in a much greater crisis.

Strengthened by the spirit of Don Bosco, however, the Salesians continue with their presence, qualifying themselves as peacemakers and sowers of hope.

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