ITALY: Afghan refugee families see signs of hope
Salesian missionaries provide shelter, safety and other support
(MissionNewswire) Afghanistan refugee families have been staying at the rectory of the Sacred Heart of Mary in Turin, Italy, since fleeing their country in search of shelter and safety. Despite the challenges and difficulty of fleeing, the families are already seeing signs of hope.
Children have been enjoying their time at the Don Bosco San Salvario oratory, engaging in games and outings while also learning the Italian language so they can start school. Parents and other adults have been included in volunteer activities to help with food distribution. They are also working to learn the language and achieve independence.
All of the older adults have good educational backgrounds and left jobs in Afghanistan. The procedures for equivalency of qualifications and obtaining permits and documentation are long and can sometimes be discouraging. Don Bosco San Salvario has been trying to help refugees sort through the process while offering emotional support during this time.
All of the oratory activities are facilitated by volunteers, who make an effort to support the refugees, spend time with them and help to meet their needs while working to make them feel at home.
Two of the families welcomed healthy babies, with Ali born in June and Maria Grazia born in July. On July 13, members of one of the families was reunited with their father, who had been stranded in Afghanistan for months due to paperwork problems.
“Around the globe, Salesian missionaries are assisting close to 400,000 refugees and internally displaced persons whose lives have been affected by war, persecution, famine, and natural disasters such as floods, droughts, and earthquakes,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Salesian programs, like those in Italy, provide refugees much-needed shelter, support, education and technical skills training, workforce development, health care, and nutrition.”
Poverty rose sharply in 2020 in Italy to its highest level in 15 years as the COVID-19 crisis brought economic challenges for much of the country. Close to 5.6 million people or 9.4 percent of the population are living in absolute poverty unable to buy goods or services to achieve a minimally acceptable standard of living, according to the World Bank. This number includes 1.3 million minors.
Salesian programs across the country provide support for families and help youth who are unable to attend school and others who drop out to work at the few jobs available to them. A growing number of children work as laborers on farms and others have turned to the sex trade to help support their families. Those in poverty often live without adequate shelter, hot water, regular meals and health care.
ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS)
Salesian Missions – Italy
World Bank – Italy