Medellín (Colombia). The young people of SYM of St. Mary Mazzarello Province of Medellín (CMM), did not give up on the traditional mission of solidarity and, in compliance with the health regulations due to the Covid-19 pandemic, from 17 to 22 December 2020 brought hope to the population of the Colombian town of Condoto (Chocó).
After the preparation via a virtual platform, on 16 December some young missionaries, accompanied by Sr. Angela Lucía Quintero, Daughter of Mary Help of Christians and provincial coordinator of the missionary group, left for Condoto where, as guests of Mary Help of Christians FMA Community, they animated the last days of Advent through formation meetings on the Salesian charism.
Thanks to networking with volunteers and solidarity associations, together with local young people, they coordinated the setting up of the markets for families, also made possible by the donations of clothing and fabric scraps by SENA, the National Institution for Professional Training.
A first activity consisted of visiting the Retirement Home of Condoto, where they animated the Novena to the Child Jesus and cheered the guests with dances and songs in the typical costumes of the Chocó tradition. In the following days, they met with the families to deepen the value of gratitude, encouraging them to recognize God’s gifts, especially health, considering the situation of the Covid-19 pandemic. Mothers and grandmothers representing their families built the ‘mural of gratitude’.
The young people of SYM also visited the local radio station and animated the transmission of the Christmas Novena for the community of Condoto. They also daily animated the Novena with the children of the parish, transmitted via Facebook page for those who followed from home. Responsible participation in local proposals allowed them to feel part of a formative community and to be active in giving their own contribution.
The meetings with local young people, the first recipients of the experience, had the aim of making them reflect on the ability to enter into a relationship with others, nurturing a look of closeness and solidarity, to come out of oneself and be attentive to the needs of others . With games and dynamics, with sharing and with a tombola, the young people of SYM involved other young people, arousing the desire to put themselves at the service of those who received the least.
The visit to the outskirts of Condoto in a ‘chocho’, a motor-taxi means of public transport, and crossing of the river to reach the House of the Salesians of Don Bosco and the hospital, helped them to get to know the reality and culture tied to its roots, where the population defends the land from exploitation and, with it, the right to a dignified life.
Another enriching experience was lived with children and young people full of energy and life, despite the shortage of meeting times due to health provisions. Their enthusiasm and laughter, even with the masks, reinvigorated hope and motivation to live the present consciously, valuing what one has, and to spend oneself in service.
The last day of the Youth Mission was dedicated to an event of the Salesian Family (FS), with the presence of the FMA Past Pupils and the Salesian Cooperators. The event was accompanied by Salesian songs and the drafting of a letter written to the Child Jesus with the renewed commitment to active belonging to the Salesian Family. The Director of the FMA Community, Sr. Eliana Hernández, expressed her gratitude for the formative work carried out by the SF in favor of the young people of Condoto.
The missionary experience in this locality, in addition to being very significant in the journey of the young people who live it, makes the style of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello to educate with the heart and be a sign of God’s love for the poorest and neediest visible and concrete.