Bishkek (AsiaNews) – As they have done every year since 2010, the Jesuits in Kyrgyzstan have organised summer camps for mostly Muslim orphans and disabled children with the help of Catholic volunteers from other countries.
This year, two groups of young volunteers, the first led by the chaplaincy of the Catholic University of Lublin (Poland), the second by Lithuanians, prepared summer activities.
A mountain summer camp hosted about 25 orphans from the southern city of Osh, the second largest in the country, on the border with Uzbekistan. Together with members from the Jalal-Abad parish in southwestern Kyrgyzstan, organisers offered English language courses for children and teenagers.
In the last ten days in July, a group of more 50 students followed an English language course at the Children Centre on Lake Issyk-kul, in the country’s northeast.
With the mountains and the lake as their backdrop, the volunteers also organised six summer camps for mostly Muslim disabled children and orphans from Kara-Suu, in the Fergana Valley, also in the south.
Some volunteers also helped to run shelters for young Catholics in the capital and surrounding areas.
Summer camps provide a venue for exchanges between people of different cultures and religions and represent an important opportunity for learning about the Christian faith and the values of the Church.
The Catholic Church has been present in the country since 2006 with an apostolic administrator, Bishop Nikolaus Messmer.
The country’s population stands at 5.6 million people, 88 per cent are Muslim. About 11.4 per cent are Christian (9.4 per cent Russian Orthodox).