ITALY: New Salesian Initiative Provides Assistance to Unaccompanied Foreign Minors in Rome
(MissionNewswire) Several Salesian programs in Italy have come together with the support of UNICEF to launch the “La Perla, Starting over from the streets” project. The new initiative aims to address the needs of unaccompanied foreign minors who are at risk on the streets of Rome, Italy. The project was first presented in May during a roundtable discussion titled “In and Out: Beyond hardship to start flying again.” Through the course of the initiative Salesian missionaries and staff will provide outreach to welcome unaccompanied minors, who often have no one else to care for them, and assist them in getting the services they need.
The project brings together the Sacred Heart Salesian Hospice, the Salesian Federation for Social Work, the Naturalmente Association, the Missionaries of the Risen Christ and the Borgo Ragazzi Don Bosco. It is financed by UNICEF.
“According to 2016 data from the Ministry of Labor more than 6,100 unaccompanied minors are on the streets and outside the formal reception system. This is why the project aims to pilot, document and evaluate coordinated actions aimed at integrating them into Italian society,” explains the project spokesperson, Father Raffaele Panno.
Salesian missionaries will first engage with youth at the Termini station, the main railway station in Rome. On initial contact missionaries will help youth access personal hygiene, assess documentation they may or may not have, and assist in any way they can. After rapport is built, Salesian missionaries will offer school or vocational training. The goal is to make youth feel worthy and build up their self-esteem so that entering school or skills training is a choice and something they truly want to engage in so they can have the most success.
Currently, there are five Egyptian youth who are the first beneficiaries of this initiative. In order to guarantee even greater access to shelter, the Salesian organizations are collaborating to find additional spaces for youth to live while they are attending school.
“We want to create real communities and to network with the institutions and the territory in a mutual cooperative fashion,” says Father Stefano Aspettati, the center’s director.
In countries around the globe, Salesian missionaries are assisting close to 400,000 refugees, internally displaced persons and unaccompanied minors whose lives have been affected by war, persecution, famine and natural disasters such as floods, droughts and earthquakes. Salesian programs provide much needed education and technical skills training, workforce development, healthcare and nutrition. Salesian missionaries are working in Italy, and across Europe, helping to provide needed services for the new wave of youth coming to these countries.
Salesian programs across Italy 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. According to UNICEF, a growing number of youth are living away from their families in temporary shelters and within government and charity programs because of inadequate support from or neglect by their families. Salesian programs work to combat these challenges by providing shelter, nutrition, education and workforce development services for youth in need.
UNICEF – Italy Poverty