ITALY: Salesian missionaries launch new group apartment for six foreign minors in town of Casale Monferrato
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries have launched a new group apartment in the town of Casale Monferrato in the Piedmont region in Italy. The group apartment was set up to support non-accompanied foreign minors and Italian minors who are working to become self-sufficient.
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 services, legal assistance and more. These projects have impacted 4,068 migrant youth.
The new group apartment can accommodate up to six young people and is part of the Salesian oratory and parish in Casale Monferrato. Youth are able to live in the apartment while going to school and participating in the Salesian community. Salesian missionaries want to ensure that the apartment residents have personal autonomy as well as experience social and cultural integration so that they are able to build relationships locally, be included in school and have opportunities for professional or vocational pathways to work.
Several volunteers from the Salesian community have helped professional staff assist youth in settling into their new community and making the connections they need. The volunteers are able to provide the family atmosphere missionaries hoped for within the group apartment.
“In a climate that often shows hostility towards non-accompanied minors, this initiative carried out by Salesian missionaries is a clear signal of welcome and integration,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “These youth now have a safe space to connect with their peers, learn skills for the future and prepare to live on their own in their new community.”
The new group apartment joins other initiatives launched for foreign minors by a collaboration between the Salesian Youth Ministry of the Special Circumscription of Piedmont and Aosta Valley (ICP) and the IUSTO Salesian University. The other initiatives include two oratories in Turin and educational programs that help foreign minors gain the skills needed for employment.
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 and 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.
Salesian programs across Italy help youth who are unable to attend school and those 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.
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UNICEF – Italy Poverty