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ITALY: Young woman from a Moroccan migrant family finds success at the Salesian Vocational Training Center in Valdocco


(MissionNewswire) Teachers make a difference in the lives of youth every day. Fatima, the daughter of a migrant worker and who earlier in her youth bounced back and forth between Morocco and Italy, is today a confident young woman thanks to the education and support she received at the Salesian Vocational Training Center in Valdocco, a quarter within the city of Turin, Italy.

The center teaches youth the skills for employment in agribusiness, electrical wiring, mechanics, graphic design, construction, food services, hospitality and more. In addition, Salesian missionaries have developed decades-long partnerships with companies in and around Turin that enable students to access professional apprenticeships and successfully find employment after graduation. More than that though, Salesian educational centers have a more holistic approach to education and help youth to overcome their difficulties and develop the whole person.

Italy has traditionally been one of the top European destinations for Moroccan workers and the relationship between the two countries has been friendly. Even so, the practical realities of adjusting to a new community, new customs and a new work environment mean that full social integration for migrant families often proves difficult. This is especially true for children like Fatima who, because she came and went so much, never had the opportunity to settle in, make friends or apply herself in school.

“After her most recent return to Turin with her parents in 2017, Fatima struggled to fit in,” explains Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “By then, Fatima was a teenager and taunted by a few of her peers for being different, for practicing a different religion, and for being unable to speak or understand Italian. Combined with her difficulties in school, these things threatened to rob Fatima of the future her parents were trying to build for her.”

As a child, Fatima never dreamed she could overcome the social, cultural and language barriers she faced in her adoptive country until a teacher helped change her life. While attending her language lessons at the Turin Civic Library, Fatima met Rosarina Spolettini, a volunteer teacher who took the time to listen to Fatima’s experiences. After learning of her many challenges, it was Spolettini who suggested that Fatima enroll in the Salesian Vocational Training Center.

Today, because of Spolettini’s suggestion and the help of her teachers at the Salesian Vocational Training Center, Fatima has successfully completed her training courses and graduated with a diploma that has restored her sense of self-worth and given her opportunities to build a better life.

In Italy, young people who are unemployed and not in school or training programs represent 20 percent of the population. Vocational training is an educational path that serves as a highly effective bridge between work and school.

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.



Photo courtesy Salesian Missions (contact for usage permissions).

Salesian Missions – Changing the Life of a Young Migrant

Salesian Missions – Italy

UNICEF – Italy Poverty

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