CIMINNA, Italy ― On any given summer time day in Palermo, Sicily, a whole lot of weary migrants and refugees may be seen disembarking large ships within the metropolis’s port, having been rescued someplace off the coast of Libya.
The variety of folks arriving on the quiet island from the Center East and Sub-Saharan Africa is staggering. Nevertheless it’s not deterring sure locals from welcoming the newcomers and pondering creatively about how their presence in Italy may be worth added.
Within the city of Ciminna, about 40 minutes outdoors of Palermo’s middle, one priest, Father Sergio Mattaliano, from nonprofit Caritas International runs a program that goals to supply agricultural job expertise to migrants and refugees, offering a mannequin for long-term integration.
A gravel highway winds up Ciminna’s hills lined in olive timber in the direction of a big white home with a barn, stables and fields within the yard.
It’s a property that Caritas rents from a gaggle of nuns. The group places migrants and refugees to work who within the not-so-distant previous had risked their lives to flee house, touring from the shores of northern Africa to the Italian island in the hunt for security and financial alternative.
The challenge’s targets slot in properly with the ethos of the island. Sicily is used to receiving and integrating foreigners ― it’s been invaded and conquered again and again all through its historical past. It’s additionally served as one of many gateways into Italy, and additional into Europe, for a lot of migrants for the reason that 1980s.
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9 folks from Gambia, Senegal, Mali and Liberia ― who arrived in Europe two years in the past and all now communicate fluent Italian ― presently work on the farm. Three of them stay in the home and the remainder come and go day by day.
They produce olive oil, vegetables and fruit, and have a tendency to chickens, rabbit and sheep. They arrange a stall within the Palermo market day-after-day.
Mattaliano, who runs Palermo’s Caritas department, got here up with the thought about two years in the past.
“Right here, they’ll study to farm,” he advised The Huffington Put up throughout a go to to the property in June. Though he lives in Palermo, he stated he’s on the farm day-after-day to show the younger males and function a form of father determine.
He patiently walked the group by means of the right approach to pores and skin sheep, handing over the electrical razor to at least one younger man at a time. They adore him, stated Caritas Palermo’s coordinator Anna Cullotta.
“After preliminary help, after quickly housing folks and getting them settled, Caritas needs to combine these folks in our society,” she added. “So we arrange this farm with a purpose to have a spot to work.”
Mattaliano was most pleased with their olive oil. “We produce 5,000 litres per yr,” he stated, and he’s in search of methods to extend exports. He marveled at the truth that the product comes from such a superb place, was constructed from arms which have suffered tremendously and but are working towards a brand new starting.
Mattaliano and the opposite younger males additionally doted upon a three-year-old Sierra Leonean woman, Prospery Sesay, as she marveled on the chickens. Her mom died in the course of the crossing from Africa two years in the past.
When not at school, Prospery spends her days enjoying with the farm’s animals, surrounded by the farmhands whereas her father, Alpha, sells produce within the Palermo market.
“These guys are a brand new household right here, new brothers and new sisters,” Cullotta stated.
Caritas Italy was created in 1971. The group presently assists 6,000 folks throughout the island, primarily within the first few months following their arrival.
A lot of the farmhands stated they’re nonetheless ready for his or her asylum functions to be processed after two years.
“No papers but,” one younger man from Mali stated, “however I’m hopeful.”
The issues that these younger males doubtless skilled in reaching Sicily are unspeakably tragic.
Kolly Cooulibaly, who lives on the property and is in command of tomato and livestock cultivation, stated he traveled to Italy together with his cousin, who didn’t survive the journey.
Greater than 100,000 migrants and refugees have arrived in Italy up to now this yr, in accordance with the U.N. Refugee Agency. All of them come by means of North Africa utilizing elaborate smuggling networks.
With the highway into Europe through Greece reduce off for essentially the most half, persons are more and more making an attempt to make their means in through the North Africa-Italy route. It’s an extended and extra harmful journey than the Turkey-Greece passageway and the boats usually include a whole lot of individuals, as an alternative of only a handful touring in a rubber dinghy. Hundreds have already drowned.
“These boats are so overcrowded that they’ll capsize inside seconds and there’s horrible violence on board these vessels,” stated Izabella Cooper, spokeswoman for EU border company Frontex.
She advised the story of a gaggle of males who grew so fed up with a crying child on a ship headed to Sicily that “they threw her overboard. You assume the ordeal of individuals ends the second of the ocean crossing, however there are horrible tales.”
In different phrases, the boys dwelling or working in Ciminna are a few of the fortunate ones. Some 200,000 new arrivals nonetheless are anticipated to make landfall in Sicily this yr, in accordance with UNHCR. For essentially the most half, persons are funneled into overcrowded refugee camps on the island or in northern Italy.
As for the longer term, the younger ones dream of finishing their research in Italy, like 17-year-old Alpha Ba from Guinea, who got here from Libya in a ship stuffed with 600 to 700 folks and stated he needs to pursue a world relations diploma.
Many wistfully harbor fantasies of changing into skilled soccer gamers.
However extra concretely, all of them stated that they hope their present alternative in Ciminna will enable them to seek out regular work to allow them to ship cash to their households again house. It’s a mannequin that Caritas goals to duplicate far and extensive.
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