ITALY: More than 100 unaccompanied foreign minors helped in the first quarter of the “I care about you” project
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries with the Salesians of Social Welfare, also known as the SCS/CNOS Federation, are continuing their “I care about you” project in Italy. The project aims to reach out to young migrants and other homeless youth who gravitate to the central train stations of the Italian metropolitan areas. Every day these youth are at risk of becoming involved in criminal activities or being sexually exploited.
Salesian missionaries estimate that there are close to 5,000 of these invisible children. They migrated from the world’s poorest countries and arrived or were left alone once in Italy. They lack access to showers, bathrooms, food, shelter and clothing.
The Salesian project aims to connect with these youth, build their trust, and try to reintegrate them into society through reception and support. The activities, sustained thanks to the Intesa San Paolo charitable fund, are taking place in Turin, Naples and Catania in the neighborhoods adjacent to the cities’ train stations.
A network composed of street educators, psychologists and volunteers greet the children and offer support and protection. Once in the program, children are offered shelter and their basic needs are met while they are also given the opportunity to take an Italian language course, receive legal assistance, acquire professional skills and find stable employment.
“With the project we aim to empower these young people, supporting them, without forcing them to take the decision to leave anonymity and the streets behind,” explains Fr. Giovanni d’Andrea, president of Salesians of Social Welfare. “We want kids to decide to come to the reception facilities, increase their confidence and become capable of facing their own story.”
In the first quarter of 2018, 53 educational activities were carried out by the education team, including mapping the territory, getting to know the meeting and gathering places of minors, and connecting with youth. Thanks to these actions, 106 unaccompanied foreign minors, mostly children outside the assistance and support networks, were engaged and relationships fostered. In addition, 61 boys received social mediation, 19 people were connected with literacy programs to learn the Italian language, six people received job placement assistance and four people received legal support.
Salesian missionaries are also working to foster collaborative relationships with other local organizations. During the first quarter of 2018, 26 public and private organizations were contacted including social services, police forces, and a number of associations and cooperatives that work for the protection of children.
The Salesians of Social Welfare has been working to promote a better quality of life for disadvantaged youth for 24 years. In 2016, close to 9,000 at-risk youth received educational and social development services through Salesian programs throughout Italy under the organization’s direction.
The primary recipients of this support are minors and youth who are in situations of social vulnerability, including those under the care of Italy’s child protection system. Many of these youth are engaged in Salesian programs, consisting of family child care homes and community housing, childcare centers for academic support, youth groups and foster parents’ networks.
Salesian missionaries have been challenged by the number of migrants and other unaccompanied youth looking for shelter, support and work in cities across Italy. For unaccompanied foreign minors, Salesian missionaries launched 58 projects, including first- and second-level reception centers, Italian language courses, job placement, legal assistance and more. These add-on services reached 4,068 migrant youth.
Italy, Europe’s third-largest economy, has close to 2 million children living in poverty, according to UNICEF. The poverty rate has risen in the wake of Europe’s economic crisis. Unemployment is at its highest level since the late 1970s, with the overall jobless rate at 12.5 percent and youth unemployment as high as 41 percent.
UNICEF – Italy Poverty