New Humanity Movement

Ethnicities and Cultures






A course of professional training and building of "networks" for integration that go beyond the initial reception. In Sicily there is a pilot project focusing on relationships.

Salvatore Brullo is managing director of the Cooperativa Foco, with decades of experience in immigration policies, social planning, management and reporting of projects. Salvatore is directly responsible in Sicily for the project Fare sistema-Oltre l'accoglienza (making system - Beyond hospitality) in tandem with AMU, AFN, the two partners of The Focolare Movement, which have always been at the forefront of work on concrete projects aimed at helping the weakest.

How did the project start?

"We have worked in the field of hospitality and service to others for years, and we teamed up with AMU, and AFN who felt the need to do something here in Italy to respond to the arrival of many migrants. AMU, in particular, decided to intervene in support of unaccompanied foreign minors who land here in Sicily in great numbers. As they contacted the various organisations dealing hands-on with integration and acceptance, they also came across us".

And what happened?

"We began to discuss the emerging needs in this sector. We became aware of the many young people between 17 and 19 years living in very delicate situations. As long as they are minors, they are welcomed into the community and offered substantial protection, however at 18, they lose the right to stay in the community and in fact find themselves out on the street. This is where we wanted to intervene, to accompany these young people until they can look after themselves".

Concretely what does the project aim for?

"We found that social integration becomes ephemeral if there are no career opportunities and specific measures to support this and that these people need help beyond the initial welcome. The project is catering for 40 youths who are not only migrants or refugees but also Italian. There are 20 in Catania, and 20 in the province of Ragusa. We are experimenting with two different ways of helping them enter the job market: in Catania we offer them a way of acquiring professional skills with training in business which lasts a month. In Ragusa and Chiaramonte and we are instead offering them internships directly within businesses so that they get work experience and learn about relationships within a professional environment".

In which professions can these young people test their skills?

'In Catania there is a very strong demand for warehouse workers, for workers in the hospitality sector and in various other facilities. In Chiaramonte the tradesman sector is very popular; one of the boys is learning to do the work of a blacksmith, another is working in a particular craft; There is a food farm and two agricultural cooperatives involved and they are employing five boys. Clearly, when we meet the boys we need to listen very carefully to their stories so as to be able to direct them to the right trade or profession".

How did you get in touch with the companies that host the boys?

"We found the companies through direct contact. We presented ourselves to the companies, we explained the project and asked them to help us. I must say that they were very welcoming and that the companies actually co-finance the project. In some cases the project was not taken on board, but this was not because of prejudice but due to the economic crisis".

How do you explain such a welcoming reception?

"We are in the initial stages of the project and this helps us keep our feet on the ground. But this being said, I think it all depends on the type of welcome that is being given to migrants in that particular area. For example, if one goes to Mineo or to Caltagirone, the population there is very annoyed by the presence of migrants because there are about 2000 of them and that is too much for such a small territory. Here efforts are mostly concentrated on the emergencies created by the arrivals and therefore people can't concentrate on other scenarios. Instead, we propose something that goes beyond the emergency phase; we help these boys to learn a trade. Only in this way will they be able to think of a better future concretely and be able to integrate with all the others without creating problems for the community. Instead they will become a resource. When we realize that some boys of the project are not migrants, but also Italians, one understands that this project is actually of great value even for the region, for the businesses and for the families".

You speak of widespread acceptance...

"Yes, I refer particularly to Chiaramonte, which is a very small town where we have 50 people who do not cut themselves off into a separate group but are homogeneously spread throughout the countryside in small residential apartments. This equally distributed presence generates the kind of relationships that lead to a new and stable social balance where  fear is overcome and problems are solved".

To sum up, does this mean creating new systems?

"It means experiencing new practices that promote a true mix of cultures and a genuine integration with the population. The novelty that we propose is to try to network at the national level, by creating a system where needs and resources can meet across the nation. We're trying to make sure that the skills a boy acquired in Ragusa can then be used in Milan, for example; but to do this it takes a company and a family who will accept the young man. We are working on two specific national databases of families and businesses so as to create this "internal humanitarian corridor" that will promote integration at multiple levels".



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