ITALY: Students graduate from first-ever ‘Pizzoratorio’ project in Torre Annunziata, receive pizza making certificates
(MissionNewswire) Students who attended the first “Pizzoratorio” project launched by the Italian Salesian association, Piccoli Passi Grandi Sogni (Small Steps, Big Dreams) in October 2019, have graduated. The project, which took place in Torre Annunziata, a city in Naples, Italy, provided vocational training at the local Salesian oratory Casa Valdocco for youth to earn a professional qualification as a pizza maker. The project received the support of the Salesians per il Sociale (Salesians for Social), Don Bosco Mondo Foundation and the Banco di Napoli Foundation for Child Care.
Students who attended the course received a pizza chef certificate, recognized by the Campania Region. Given the success of the first graduating class, Salesians have introduced the continuation of the program with a second round of training. The workshop for pizza makers is training youth aged 16 to 18 years old who are at risk of social marginalization. The goal is to help them gain a skill to find employment.
Father Antonio Carbone, the Salesian in charge of the project, explained, “The project was born in an area where there are many difficulties and the prospects for work and commitment are also difficult. Our goal every day is to get young people off the street. We will save them from the streets thanks to a gastronomic laboratory that will teach them how to cook and bake pizzas. And thanks to this qualification, they will be able to find an honest job.”
For many youth in the area, the project was an alternative to the dangers on the streets. Saverio, a 16-year-old graduate said, “I would have liked the course to last longer, to learn more and more techniques and improve. I still don’t know if I’ll want to do this job when I grow up, but I’ll carefully preserve this certificate that I conquered with constancy and sacrifice.”
The first graduating class suffered a tragedy. Luigi, a 17-year-old student, was killed in a robbery attempt in the final weeks of the class. He was passionate about his work as a pizza maker. Fr. Carbone wrote in a Facebook post, “I remember him when with so much sacrifice he wanted to learn the profession of pizza chef, I remember him, when during the months of lockdown three days a week, together with other guys he prepared pizzas to take to disadvantaged families, I remember him crying because in those months he couldn’t see his family, I remember him on Sunday at Mass with downcast eyes when during the homily there was talk of the beautiful life to which Jesus calls us.”
In Italy, young people who are unemployed and not in school or training programs represent 20 percent of the population. Vocational training is as an educational path that serves as a highly effective bridge between school and work.
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.
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.
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Salesian Missions – Italy
UNICEF – Italy Poverty