Author: Salesian Missions

Publication Date: September 10, 2019

Changing the Life of a Young Migrant

She is the daughter of a migrant worker who bounced back and forth between Morocco and Italy during her most formative years. As a child, Fatima never dreamed she could overcome the social, cultural and language barriers she faced in her adoptive country…until one compassionate teacher helped change this young girl’s life.

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.

“Upon her most recent return to Turin with her parents, in 2017, Fatima struggled to fit in,” explains Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions. “By then a teenager, she was 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 very future her parents were trying to build for her, starting with an education.”

One day, while attending language lessons at the Turin Civic Library, Fatima met Rosarina Spolettini, a volunteer teacher who lent a willing ear to Fatima’s experiences. After learning of her many challenges, Rosarina suggested that Fatima enroll in the Salesian Vocational Training Center of Turin-Valdocco, also known as CNOS-FOP (an acronym that reflects the Italian words for “National Center for Salesian Works—Training and Professional Development”).

Considered a direct descendant of Don Bosco’s very first school for disadvantaged youth, the Vocational Training Center prepares students for decent jobs in agribusiness, electrical wiring, mechanics, graphic design, construction, food services, hospitality and more. Decades-long partnerships, and professional apprenticeships, with companies in and around Turin mean that many students successfully find employment upon graduation.

Here, for Fatima, a new world opened up. According to an article reported in the Italian publication “La Voce e il Tempo” (the renowned newspaper of the Turin Church): “Don Bosco’s educational style was therapeutic from all points of view. She started school with hopes and fears, then hopes became certainties and her fears disappeared.”

With the guidance of compassionate and expert teachers, who were able to offer holistic support, Fatima 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. This is the legacy of Don Bosco’s work, and his vision of hope for so many vulnerable youth.

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