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ITALY: Refugee Program in Rome Helps Youth Find Work, Overcome Integration Barriers

(MissionNewswire) Refugees often face overwhelming challenges adapting to a new country. Many leave almost all of their possessions and everything familiar behind. Language barriers, difficulties integrating into a new community, handling distrust on the part of others and a lack of recognition of their qualifications and competence are often daily challenges. One of the greatest challenges is finding work.

The United Nations noted that at the end of 2012, there were 43.7 million refugees globally, almost 80 percent of whom are women and children who face daily challenges integrating into their new communities.

A new Salesian program, Porto di Terra, is helping young refugees at the Salesian House of Sacro Cuore in Marsala, Rome. The program, which started in April 2012 and is slated to run through March 2014, assists with the social integration of refugees into their new communities while teaching them new skills and helping them find stable employment.

Many of these refugees are youth who were forced to flee their own countries because of war, famine and other forms of violence and persecution. They come to Rome to ask the Italian Government for recognition and some form of protection. Challenges with integration begin almost as soon as they arrive.

“Our objective is to contribute to the training of the younger generation both Italian-born and foreign, to help their skills training in order to enable them to emerge from situations of disadvantage, marginalization and social difficulty,” says a representative of Alleanza Toro, an insurance company that is helping to fund the program. “It is also our aim to offer assistance and support to families with children in difficult situations of sickness or crisis.”

Close to 120 youth are currently taking part in the program. They are provided Italian language courses, driving instruction, computer workshops and courses for school certification. In addition, professionals work with the refugees as guidance counselors, assessing previous knowledge and experience in order to select the best training program for each individual.

The program also helps the refugees find employment. It aims to place at least ten of its students in local businesses to gain work experience, enabling them to acquire a trade and find later employment.

“Refugees face many barriers when they are forced to leave their homelands for new countries,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Once arriving they may be safer than they were but new challenges arise. Programs like these help refugees navigate their new environment, build important social and professional connections and find stable employment which leads to success and stability in their new homes.”

In addition to the funding from Alleanza Toro, the project is made possible by Salesian Social Services in collaboration with the Salesian Community at Sacro Cuore, the Association CNOS-FAP for the Lazio Region and the Missionary Sisters of the Risen Christ.

Italy is one of more than 130 countries where the Salesians work to give hope and opportunity through skills training and other programs for vulnerable youth. Learn more on at www.salesianmissions.org.



ANS – Italy – Porto di Terra project

UNHCR – World Refugee Day 2013


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