Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Far from Brazil, a "different" World Youth Day is being held in India at present. In Dadar, central Mumbai, 19 young Opus Dei members from Zaragoza (Spain) are offering their services in Our Lady's Home, an orphanage for boys founded 53 years ago for poor, needy and abandoned children, of every caste and religion. All 19 are university students, and play for the Atlético Madrid football team.
"Our common passion for football and the call of Pope Francis and of Saint Jose Maria Escriva who repeatedly said, 'A university must educate its students to have a sense of service to society,' made us come to Mumbai to share our love for the game and help underprivileged kids," 23-year-old medical student Aliaga Arturo told AsiaNews.
The days at the orphanage go by quietly with the Spanish group spending a lot of time with the boys. "Twice a day, we hold two-hour sessions teaching kids how to play football as well as additional sessions teaching them how to use computers," said Luis Cipres.
"However, we don't only give, but we also receive from these boys, who enrich our lives. In spite of the difficulties and challenges of life, these boys are happy. This orphanage is so different from how we imagined it. There is such hope and happiness! We are grateful to be here and share our lives with them."
"Guiding students to develop skills, knowledge and the right attitudes is an important part of our mission," said Perico Herraiz, member of Opus Dei in the Spanish province of Aragon.
"We try to shape the whole person from a mental, technical and social point of view. Thus, these boys will not only be great footballers, but also young men of strong character. In creating opportunities for them and nurturing their talents, we hope to toughen them up so that they can become successful individuals. "
"For these kids, it is essential to learn, through the great game of football, respect, friendship, collaboration and sharing, and preserve these values as important lessons for their future," said Carlos Soler.
At the same time, "for us it is a great lesson in life. Seeing children of different religions play together is something very special and a sign of a bright future for them."
Created in 1960, the orphanage has helped 1,804 boys who found a place in Our Lady's Home, as well as love, and the education needed to build a future. Today the facility is home to 125 children and teenagers, ranging in age from 6 to 18.