Author: Salesian Missions

Publication Date: August 16, 2021

ITALY: ‘Salesian Solidarity with Italy: the Emergency Response to COVID-19′ project made possible through USAID

Salesian Missions, with support from the U.S. Government through USAID, helps to mitigate challenges in education and accessing basic needs.

NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Aug. 16, 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 aims 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.

Due to early shifts in education and the adoption of distance learning methodologies in response to pandemic guidelines, many students experienced performance declines with some dropping out due to lack of steady internet connection and devices. To mitigate these challenges, the project provided digital education kits to 64 schools, four project partners and two VIS network partners.

The project also allowed for the purchase and dissemination of more than 170 licenses for technical software that were made accessible to technical and vocational training students through the CNOS-FAP network. This included software for graphics and communication, CAD-CAM, e-platforms and more. Online courses and web talks have also been provided. As of April 30, 248 people have participated in the online courses and 363 in web talks. Courses are offered both live and on-demand, which have allowed young people to obtain and continue their technical education during the pandemic.

Through the stay@ctive campaign, VIS is working with local Salesian centers to provide free online educational resources for families with children to help parents and children with coping strategies during periods of self-isolation and quarantine. More than 6,200 students have participated in the stay@ctive campaign. Most of the materials have been provided, with some social media campaigns, web talks and videos still underway.

Much needed food, shelter, and mental health and social support have been provided to poverty-stricken families and migrants in Catania, Sicily, through local partner Don Bosco 2000. A temporary reception center for migrants and refugees has been set up to provide shelter to 10 vulnerable migrants coming from Algeria, Niger, Egypt, Gambia and Senegal. Migrants have been involved in several orientation activities, including participating in Italian classes, coaching and legal tutoring. Through the integrated reception provided by SIPROIMI (Italian Protection System for Holders of International Protection and for Foreign UASC), migrants supported by this work 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. Additionally, some have been linked with private sector companies to obtain employment.

The project has also set up a mobile help desk that has provided mental health and social support to 36 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. An additional 29 people are still undergoing a needs assessment and action plan development. In addition, 380 poverty-stricken families in different parts of Italy were provided prepaid cards for purchasing groceries in supermarkets and small shops.

“We are grateful to the U.S. Government for supporting this critical project in Italy, which has been hard hit by the virus and has a struggling economy made worse by the pandemic,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “Salesians have joined together across the country with the support of partners to help address the ongoing needs brought about by the pandemic. This is an example of yet another collaborative project to assist those most in need through education, psycho-social support and delivering direct relief materials.”

Thomas Smitham, chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy Rome, said, “We stand alongside Italy with concrete support through a $60 million assistance package (including $10 million from the U.S. military for medical and personal protection equipment) to help Italian health care institutions, NGOs, and the private sector fight the pandemic and prepare the country for future challenges. In addition, U.S. companies offered over 50 million euros (approximately $60 million) in donations and assistance to Italy. We will continue to work with Italy to address the pandemic and protect global health.”

Salesian Missions continues to facilitate this project with its implementation partners and work to mitigate the harmful secondary effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on vulnerable populations across Italy.


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