“There is a vein of illusions and dreaming running through the notion of this project,” recounts Flavia Cerino, lawyer and coordinator of activities in Sicily. We have come up against one of the most complex realities regarding migration, one of the most urgent problems: that of unaccompanied foreign minors (UAM) that arrive on the Italian coasts exhausted from the long voyages, but still full of hope for the future.
Among the migrants who reach Europe, unaccompanied minors are undoubtedly the ones most in need of support. In the first five months of 2016 (UNICEF), 7,000 new arrivals were registered in Italy, double the number from the same period in previous years. “In order to be able to live legally in Italy, Flavia adds, these teenagers need to be inserted into the work force as soon as possible. If they don’t manage to do that and to obtain the proper documents, once they become legal adults they are considered illegal with the concrete possibility of falling into an illegal underground network.”
“We reflected at length on possible interventions,” adds Francesco Tortorella from the NGO Amu (Azione per un Mondo Unito) and one of the promotors of the present project. We also conferred with a variety of professionals that are familiar with the minute details of this issue. Another promoter, the Cooperativa Fo.Co , has been working for years with teenage migrants and accompanying them over the course of their lives. The contribution of the New Families Association was important from the very start: these teenagers are mostly in need of a family in the broadest sense of the word.”
The first phase of the project called “Welcoming & Getting Settled“ was officially begun on last June 6th in Catania and in Ragusa with the launching of professional training courses. Forty three young people were selected, ten of whom were Italians who, because of various disadvantaged backgrounds live in foster settings. The presence of Italian youngsters is a strong point of the project, which wishes to care for vulnerable youngsters regardless of their citizenship.
Training will begin in October with the first trainee placements. The second phase of the project – the most innovative – foresees the involvement of businesses that are willing to insert the young people both in the work process and in families in which the young people can find a community of stable relationships that are indispensable for their social integration. Territorial connections have been set up all over Italy that are joined by a secure network that connect families and businesses with the training and work needs of the teenagers.
Businesses that belong to the Economy of Communion and to the AIPEC will play a fundamental role, beginning from a network that aims to offer opportunities for the young people who participate in the project to be inserted in the work force.
The New Families NPO Association’s network has been activated for months, promoting willingness to welcome the young people, since it has already had experience in welcoming them for periods of vacation. “At the end of 2015,” Paola Iacavone wrote, “seven teenagers who live in a group home have been able to have an experience in a family, which was for them and for the family that welcomed them, a very positive experience. They were from Egypt, Mali and Senegal, Coptic Orthodox Christians and Muslims – and they were welcomed by families from Rome, Lanciano, Ancona and Cosenza, Italy.”
In short, this experience has only just begun! The project was highly welcomed by the institutions and, if this first experimental model functions, it will certainly be proposed and carried out on a larger scale just as everyone hopes it will.
For more information, details and how to contribute go to project website.