ITALY: ‘Salesian Solidarity with Italy: the Emergency Response to COVID-19′ project made possible through USAID supports migrant youth
Project aimed to impact more than 24,000 people including students, youth, teachers, families, and migrants and refugees.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Dec. 14, 2021) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, facilitates the “Salesian Solidarity with Italy: the Emergency Response to COVID-19” project. The project is made possible with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Government’s main development agency operating in more than 100 countries worldwide.
This project is one element of USAID’s $50 million commitment to Italy to help save lives and build resilience for the future. USAID’s work in Italy is one part of the U.S. Government’s response to the pandemic in Italy.
The project aimed to impact more than 24,000 people including students and other young people, teachers, families, and migrants and refugees. Salesian Missions is working with Salesian International Volunteering for Development (VIS) and local Salesian partners CNOS-FAP, the National Salesian Center for Vocational Training and Ongoing Education, and SCS-CNOS Federation, Salesians for Social Welfare to implement project activities.
In addition to educational activities aimed to strengthen remote learning, the project is focusing on much needed food, shelter, and mental health and social support for poverty-stricken families and migrants in Catania, Sicily, through local partner Don Bosco 2000. A temporary reception center for migrants and refugees was set up to provide shelter to 10 vulnerable migrants coming from Algeria, Niger, Egypt, Gambia and Senegal.
These vulnerable migrants have been involved in several orientation activities including participation in Italian classes, coaching, legal tutoring, and more. At the end of the orientation time, thanks to the collaboration with local authorities, the legal custody of five migrants passed to SIPROIMI (Italian Protection System for Holders of International Protection and for Foreign UASC). Through the integrated reception provided by SIPROIMI, these youth will have long-lasting access to legal protection with an application for international protection, access to the health system and psychological support, education, and integration activities.
During a recent site visit by Salesian Missions staff to Colonia Don Bosco, a beachside hostel and center of Don Bosco 2000, Omar, a migrant in the program, shared his story. He arrived in Italy in February 2018 and worked as a bartender before being laid off after COVID-19 shut down the local hospitality industry. Since being at Colonia Don Bosco, Omar has been able to
continue his education. He is in his second year of high school and has worked as a bartender during the summer months.
“The project gave me so many chances,” said Omar. “I would like to thank these people for the project, helping us to apply for our future. One day I would like to study tourism. One day I’d like to go back to Gambia. This project gave me a second chance to restart. It gave me a second chance to achieve my dreams.”
The project has also set up a mobile help desk that has provided case management and referral services to impoverished people in Catania and Aidone. Some of the individuals were referred for nutritional services while others were sent to the reception center for migrants and refugees managed by Don Bosco 2000. Some were also referred to job placement services.
In addition, the project has provided food assistance via electronic payment cards to 380 families, representing at least 1,317 people, so that they could buy groceries in supermarkets and small shops. The distribution of a prepaid card aimed to strengthen responsible consumption and boost a home-grown production and distribution food chain. In collaboration with this initiative, Green VIS developed guidance documents and assisted local partners to ensure the optimal distribution, storage and waste management procedures.
Salesian Missions continues to facilitate this project with its implementation partners and works to mitigate the harmful secondary effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on vulnerable populations across Italy.
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