ITALY: Salesian missionaries help young migrants gain an education through the “I care about you” project
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries with the Salesians of Social Welfare, also known as the SCS/CNOS Federation, are impacting youth and their families with the “I care about you” project in Italy. The project reaches out to homeless youth who gravitate to the central train stations of the Italian metropolitan areas. Many of these homeless youth are migrants who come to Italy searching for a better future.
Every day these young people 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 have migrated from the world’s poorest countries and many have been abandoned once in Italy. They lack access to showers, bathrooms, food, shelter and clothing.
The project aims to connect with these youth, gain their trust and try to reintegrate them into society with Salesian support. The project activities, made possible by 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 homeless youth and offer support and protection. Once in the program, the participants’ basic needs are met including shelter and they are given the opportunity to take an Italian language course, receive legal assistance, acquire professional skills and find stable employment.
Yassin, who is 22 years old, is one of the youth impacted by the project. He arrived in Italy from Morocco when he was still a minor. He lived in Vercelli for a short time and then followed his family to France. Once Yassin became of age, his relatives returned to Morocco. He decided to stay in France where he found work in a supermarket. His wish though was to return to Italy and finish his studies.
At the beginning of 2018, Yassin returned to Italy and settled in Turin where he had some friends. After obtaining a residence permit, Yassin decided to continue his education. Thanks to support he received from the “I care about you” project he was able to go back to school.
“Thanks to this project I have legal support, a job and training orientation and an Italian language course to improve my knowledge of the language,” says Yassin.
The Salesians of Social Welfare organization 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 that include family child care homes and community housing, childcare centers for academic support, youth groups and foster parent 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.
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UNICEF – Italy Poverty