Focus 2007

Concerto2007 - AFE15-12-2007

Project: Support for the Darfur campaign
Date: December 24, 2007
Place: Italy - Sudan
Province: AFE (Sudan)


Darfur, a region situated in the west of Sudan, in the Sahara desert is the scene of one of the greatest human tragedies. After about twenty years of civil war, in 2005 peace agreements were signed which in spite of all the promises have not brought order to the country: the victims of the disorders reached two million, while the refugees number about 4 million.

On Friday 14 September, at Castel Gandolfo, the Pope granted an audience to the President of Sudan Omar Hassan Ahmed El-Bashir, accompanied by a delegation composed of 15 government representatives, including the Foreign Minister, the Minister for Religious Affairs and a  representative of the Christian religion.

At the centre of the meeting was the crucial topic of human rights and religious freedom, with particular reference to the importance of dialogue and openness among the different religions. Benedict XVI appealed for an end to the suffering and the insecurity of the people in Darfur, trying to ensure humanitarian assistance and the implementation of development projects.
Also underlined was the fundamental  contribution of the Catholic Church, which for years has been working in Sudan in the humanitarian field and in education. In these activities the Salesians are playing a significant role in Sudan, and in collaboration with VIS, are carrying out various projects for assistance and development.

The Salesian missions are concentrated in the south of Sudan, at Tonj and Wau, and in the north at Khartoum, Nyala and El Obejd. The most important centre of  Salesian activity is the city of Tonj, where about 700 children are benefitting from the construction of a new school where they will be assured of a good basic education. The Salesian project aims at finally resolving the situation of the serious lack of schools.


“My greatest satisfaction is going into the workshops and seeing our youngsters learning a trade that will allow them to look after their own families, their own children.” These are some of the words Fr Vincenzo Donati, for 50 years a Salesian missionary the last fifteen of them in Sudan, told the public at the Christmas Concert held 9 December, at the Teatro Filarmonico in Verona.
The short interview brought to an end the evening of music and song in the Christmas spirit and with the spirit of solidarity promoted by “Prime Time Promotions” during 15 years of its Christmas Concerts. The Show introduced by Mara Venier, well-known to Italian TV viewers, thanks to the contributions of a variety of Italian and International artists, provided encouragement and thoughts for reflection in the support of the solidarity campaign for Darfur launched by the Don Bosco in the World Foundation.

Those who performed in the course of the evening- some more than once - included: Michael Bolton, Anggun, Eugenio Bennato, Mario Biondi, Giovanni Allevi, the soprano Mika Kunii and the tenor Francesco Malapena, Gerardina Trovato, Lighea, Massimo Ranieri, Serena Autieri, The Virginia Gospel Choir, Ornella Vanoni, Ron and the duo RyanDan.
Two items were directly connected with the evening’s project: the song of Mattafix, “Living Darfur”, accompanied by some images from their video which documents the plight of the Darfur refugees, and Niccolò Fabi who sang “Millions of Days.” During his song some of the images he had filmed himself recently in Elobeid where he had met Fr Donati, the Salesians and the youngsters from the centre were shown. At the end of his performance he said: “There are some very special people there who manage to give the youngsters hope for the future.”
“It was seeing those youngsters left to themselves and without any hope,” Fr G Donati said, “that moved me to take the initiative and do something, and so, like Don Bosco, we set to work. Our aim was to bring them together and offer them the possibility of building a future. At first we managed to provide for sixty or so youngsters, and now there 400, but I should like them to be 4000!”

Among those present at the evening were the Mayor of Verona, Dr. Flavio Tosi, the Vicar General of the Diocese of Verona, Mgr. Giuseppe Pellegrini, the Director of RAI 2, Antonio Marano, Fr Pascual Chávez, Rector Major of the Salesiani, his Vicar Fr Adriano Bregolin, Fr Giovanni Mazzali, Economer General and Fr Tarcisio Scaramussa, Councillor for Social Communication.
After the evening concert, in the Nobles’ Hall in the Great Palace of Verona, there was Grand Gala attended by the authorities, the organisers, the artists and guests. The Rector Major wished to express personally his thanks on behalf of the Don Bosco Foundation to the performers and presented them with a scroll and a silver medal of Don Bosco.
The Concert, recorded by the technicians of the RAI will be broadcast on the evening of 24 December by RAI 2 and will boost the solidarity campaign that between 22 and 26 December will be inviting the people of Italy to contribute by text message, telephone or bank account number to the projects the Don Bosco in the World Foundation together with other members of the  “Don Bosco Network”, are undertaking on behalf of the young refugees in Darfur.

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