Abidjan (Ivory Coast). On the occasion of the World Day against the Exploitation of Children, Sister Pascaline Affognon, Daughter of Mary Help of Christians, Coordinator for Communication of ‘Mother of God’ Province – West Africa (AFO), in an interview with the editorial staff of Vatican News, recounts the educational mission that the FMA communities carry out in accompanying children and girls who find themselves in situations of hardship.
“Here they feel loved”, says Sister Pascaline. “As Salesian Educators, we are committed to welcoming girls and women, to listen to their stories by dedicating our time to them, so that the girls will gain trust and openness. On this journey the opportunity is given to go to school, and literacy and formation courses are offered at the Professional Formation Center.”
In Abidjan, on the Ivory Coast, you can breathe a family atmosphere where girls experience the warmth of feeling at home. “Girls do sports and recreational activities, such as modern dance which help them to rediscover their bodies and to trust themselves and each other.”
“The work we carry out – explains Sister Affognon – is networked with other organizations that are committed to the protection of children’s rights. Some girls are entrusted to our care by the International Catholic Child Bureau (BICE) and by the Salesians who work in this area.”
Sister Pascaline said that during the lockdown for Covid-19, efforts were made to reorganize the days with formation activities, play, celebration of the Word of God. “There was a work of sensitization to explain the pandemic and how to protect oneself: wash your hands, put on masks, respect the distance between each other. It was not easy at first, but now they have learned.”
The challenges are of a different nature, and there is need for psychological accompaniment, health care, education, and formation.
The mission among minors is a great call for the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians who respond daily to Pope Francis’ appeal to everyone’s responsibility: “Children are the future of the human family: we all have the task of promoting their growth, health, and serenity.”
(from Vatican News)