(ANS - Vatican City) - The Salesians are children of a migrant, Don Bosco, who came from the rural areas of Castelnuovo d' Asti and moved to Turin. Its first recipients were young migrants and the first missionaries in Argentina had to take care of Italian migrants. But above all, today, Salesians work with and for migrants, especially children and young people, on all continents.
That's why the Salesians have spoken at the International Forum "Migration and Peace", which is taking place these days (21-22 February) in the Vatican.
The event, organized by the Ministry for the Service of Integral Human Development, the "Scalabrini International Migration Network" (SIMN) and the "Konrad Adenauer Foundation", yesterday also saw the intervention of Pope Francis, who welcomed the participants in the Clementine Room. In his speech, the Pontiff asked to be close to the people who flee from situations of danger by proposing four key words: welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating.
For their part, Don Martín Lasarte and Don George Menamparampil, Salesians, of the Sector for Missions, had the opportunity to present the approach and the different articulations of the work of the Sons of Don Bosco with migrants. They are privileged recipients of the Salesian mission, given that more than half of the 65.3 million refugees/populated (UNHCR data) are minors and the other half are mostly young, i. e. the first beneficiaries of the Salesiancharism.
In the various Salesian presences - schools, vocational training centres, oratories, social works and parishes - there are about 10.6 million people in direct contact in more than 130 countries around the world, of whom it is estimated that 16% are refugees, internally displaced persons or first or second generation immigrants. In Italy, for example, in the 50 vocational training centres, migrants account for 20% of students.
The Salesian mission therefore involves some 1.7 million people in a situation of human mobility, including some 400,000 refugees/populated persons/asylum seekers.
Interventions against them, without excluding emergency operations whenever necessary, have as their priority the development of educational processes that, within a sufficient time span, can offer migrants the means to integrate themselves into the world of work and therefore into host societies.
On the other hand, Salesians also work to transmit to host societies the values of solidarity proper to the Gospel.
They also work with specific initiatives to combat the phenomenon of trafficking in human beings, such as those of the NGO "People's Action for Rural Awakening" in the Indian region; or "Stop Treatment", in collaboration with the NGO "International Volunteering for Development" in West Africa and Ethiopia.
Finally, the Salesian side also noted the need to strengthen and make more systematic at a global level the collaboration with other Catholic institutions active in the same sector.