WORLD DAY OF MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES: Salesian Missions highlights life-changing programs
Pope Francis has chosen to entitle his annual message as ‘Building the Future with Migrants and Refugees.’
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Sept. 25, 2022) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins Catholic organizations around the globe in honoring World Day of Migrants and Refugees. The day, celebrated on Sept. 25, will be the 108th celebration of the day, which was started in 1914 as a way to highlight and express concerns for vulnerable populations of people who have left their homes in search of safety and more opportunity.
Each year a theme is chosen for the day. This year, Pope Francis has chosen to entitle his annual message as “Building the Future with Migrants and Refugees” as a way to highlight the shared commitment needed to build a future that embraces God’s plan to leave no one behind.
The day focuses on “recognizing and promoting the role that migrants and refugees have to play in this work of construction, because only in this way will it be possible to build a world that ensures the conditions for the integral human development of all.”
“Working in more than 130 countries around the globe, Salesian missionaries are on the front lines helping migrants and refugees in their new countries to become acclimated and access the resources they need,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “Salesian programs help young migrants adapt to their new environment through language and skills training and workforce development programs.”
To mark the Catholic celebration of World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2022, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight programs around the globe that provide life-changing education and social support to refugees and migrants.
Salesian missionaries are housing refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine* at the Salesian house in Kazincbarcika, a city in northern Hungary near the Ukraine-Hungary border. Salesians also have a parish, two schools, a dormitory and several other institutions where they care for poor youth and their families, mostly minority Roma people.
As the mass of refugees started to arrive from Ukraine, Father Béla Ábrahám, director of the Kazincbarcika Salesian House, registered the house as a refugee shelter with the authorities. Shortly after, Salesians started to gather supplies to prepare accommodations for the refugees. Thanks to generous donors, the house includes three washing machines, five refrigerators and four microwave ovens. They began welcoming refugees in early April.
Five families initially stayed with the Salesians. The second group of refugees followed two weeks later, mostly women and children. Salesian students moved to the first floor of the dormitory, leaving the second and third floors reserved for refugees. Many local people and organizations have helped the Salesians by providing provide food, pastries, sweets, clothes and toys. Some offer their time and skills, helping with administration issues or providing medical support.
Most of the refugees welcomed by the Salesians look forward to going back to Ukraine to resume their lives. Some, however, will not be able to go back to their homes as there is nothing left, and they will have to start over in Hungary.
The Kerala Interstate Migrants Alliance for Transformation project has been intervening in the lives of the interstate migrants across Kerala, India, by offering migrant help desks in 11 districts. These help desks provide support services and legal assistance to migrant laborers, especially those who have been isolated and marginalized.
To ensure effective execution of the project, Don Bosco institutions across the selected districts have partnered with BREADS – Bangalore Rural Education and Development Society. All the activities are centrally coordinated and replicated across the state through the state office at Don Bosco Veedu, located in Trivandrum.
Coordinators working at the desks have been encouraged to read more journals, articles and books related to migration, which will enhance their knowledge and guide them in their practical work among the migrants.
Kakuma Refugee Camp was established in 1992 near Kenya’s border with South Sudan. It was a place of refuge for unaccompanied minors fleeing warring factions in what was then southern Sudan. Today, Kakuma Refugee Camp has more than 225,000 refugees from nine countries including South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda and Burundi. It is estimated that more than 50 percent of refugees are youth and children.
Operated by the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in collaboration with Salesian missionaries and several other humanitarian organizations, Kakuma Refugee Camp offers refugees safety, security, and life-saving services such as housing, health care, clean water and sanitation.
Over the years, Salesian missionaries have developed a number of programs and services for the refugees in the camp. The Salesian Holy Cross Catholic Parish provides spiritual services at 10 out-stations spread across the camp. Salesians also launched the Savio Club in 2014 to provide character development for children in the camp. Today, there are more than 1,000 children involved in club activities.
The Don Bosco Reception Center, a new space dedicated to giving shelter to women with children, was launched in Tijuana, Mexico. The reception center was set up to help women at risk, especially migrants. Women can receive legal, psychological, medical and spiritual services.
This new reception center is one project among many launched by the Salesian Center in Tijuana, which since 1987 has been providing services to migrants and poor youth living on the border between Mexico and the U.S.
The Salesian Center acts as a hub for migrants who, besides much-needed material help, are also offered a familiar and welcoming environment. They can access haircuts, a change of clothes, a shower, and an opportunity to call and make contact with families. The Salesian Center also has a partnership with the Red Cross and local volunteer doctors who offer psychological and medical help and assistance.
Contact: [email protected]