'Valdocco Project': holidays for young asylum seekers & refugees
Posted: Wed, 10 Apr 2019 16:04
Danny at the camp in Calais
Our Salesian Youth Ministry (SYM) team is developing a new summer camp project which will offer much-needed breaks to young refugees and asylum seekers aged 14-17, and they need your support. Watch the video below.
The Valdocco Project is inspired by our Salesian charism and named after the place where Don Bosco first gave hope and joy to excluded young people. It's a response to Pope Francis' calls for compassion towards those seeking sanctuary, and to "recognise and welcome the Lord Jesus among the smallest and most vulnerable." The project has also been shaped by the Rector Major's request to the Salesian family in Europe to seek practical ways to offer assistance in the refugee crisis, paying particular attention to unaccompanied minors and young people".
Exclusion, uncertainty and, sadly, hostility, have severe impacts on young people especially, and they can become trapped with limited opportunity to rebuild their lives. A holiday offers a sense of freedom and normality that young refugees and asylum seekers rarely experience.
The Salesian Youth Ministry team met in November to begin planning and developing the project, and they are gathering this weekend to work with the volunteer team on preparations for the first summer camp, which is planned for 3 - 10 August 2019.
Danny Sweeney, from SYM, said, "For this pilot programme we're going to be based around Liverpool, one of the areas of the UK where asylum seekers are dispersed to after initially raising their claim. With this being a new area for SYM, it will allow us to be rooted in a local community, and hopefully encourage contact with families, not just the young people who will be participating."
Support in developing roots within the community will come from local members of the Salesian family who are involved in schools or work directly with young asylum seekers in the area.
The team of volunteers and organisers are passionate about reaching out to these young people, whose childhoods have been disrupted by war and persecution, and who have suffered the trauma of fleeing their homes and arriving in a strange place where their welcome is uncertain.
Danny experienced the situation and treatment of young asylum seekers at the UK border in Calais while he was working as a volunteer: "I became increasingly convinced that a response which was more welcoming and compassionate was desperately needed. As a youth ministry team, we're not in a position to change national policies, but we have the experience and skills to offer young people a chance to get away, to enjoy themselves, meet new friends, and spend time with Salesian animators."
SYM hopes that the Valdocco Project will have long-term effects too, in providing a foundation for young refugees and asylum seekers "to build their lives in a positive way and be able to fit themselves responsibly into society," as called for in the Salesian Youth Ministry Frame of Reference.
How you can help:
- Please pray for the success of the Valdocco Project.
- Please help us spread the word about the project by sharing our social media posts or telling your friends and family.
- If you are able to make a donation, please visit the JustGiving page, and encourage others to consider donating.
- Contact Salesian Youth Ministry to discuss any other help you feel you could offer the project.
"The option for poor youth and those abandoned and at risk has been at the heart of the Salesian Family and its life from the time of Don Bosco till today." Salesian Youth Ministry Frame of Reference, p 242