They are children and young people who come by sea, on old boats that are unstable and overloaded, risking their lives almost to every wave. Often they do not understand Italian well and certainly are not aware of all their rights, nor of what awaits them. If they left on their own, or remain alone on arriving, what they may find is a future as clandestines, marginalized. But sometimes, things go differently, because there are also people who do think of them: like the Salesians of the "San Gregorio" community of Catania, in Sicily, which inaugurated a new house yesterday, May 2; its name: Najma, which means star in Arabic.
The phenomenon of Unaccompanied Foreign Minors (MSNA) is clearly growing in Italy. And behind every statistical number, there is a life, an existence, that has been uprooted and completely isolated, exposed to forms of social risk such as crime, abuse, violence, poverty ...
To offer human and Christian solutions to this phenomenon, the "Salesians for Social - SCS / CNOS Federation" started "M'interesso di te", or “I take interest in you, care for you”, at the beginning of 2018, a program which includes, among other tasks within Catania's Salesian world, the San Gregorio Center, on the outskirts of the city.
As early as February, street educators, counselors, psychologists, lawyers and volunteers have been guaranteeing each child intercepted their support and protection, but only yesterday did the Salesians of San Gregorio and the Associazione MetaCometa Onlus officially inaugurate their headquarters. Present at the opening: the Provincial of the Salesians of Sicily, Fr Giuseppe Ruta, the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Catania, Mgr. Salvatore Genchi, and institutional figures of both the Christian and Muslim religious, civil and social world.
At the Catania's Najima "low threshold" center (ie for people in extreme difficulty), the so-called "invisible migrants" - MSNAs or recently of adult age - have the chance to wash, eat hot meals, rest, participate in activities of recreation and socialization.
The "Najma" reception center also carries out social mediation work with related institutions and offers orientation courses for study and work, with the creation of study grants and job grants. Since many of the "invisible migrants" are exposed to the risk of addictions, health problems and exploitation, a legal advisory service is also available to them, both criminal and civil, and support in processing their personal document.
On 26th April, in the premises of COMECE (Commission of Bishops’ Conferences in the EU) took place the first European gathering of International Catholic Youth Organisations, in which Don Bosco International, as a facilitator and coordinator of the meeting, and Don Bosco Youth-Net as one of the most active Catholic Youth Organisation were represented.
The meeting was opened by Fr. Olivier Poquillon op, secretary general of COMECE, very supportive of this process, as there is a clear need and will from the bishops’ representation in Brussels to have young people’s voices heard by the institutions. The content of the meeting was very diverse: the presence of some organisations in the European Youth Forum, the new policy updates at EU level (such as the new Erasmus+, European Youth Strategy or the difficulties with the current EU grants), the work done with migrants and refugees by the different youth organisations, and the follow up of the Synod on Youth, in order to find possible ways to establish social and political dialogue with different stakeholders at national and EU level.
DBYN’s study session Advocates for Education took place from 8 April until 15 April 2018 in Budapest.
24 participants, 4 trainers and several experts from all over Europe came together to learn and teach about Human Rights based advocacy. The study session took place in the European Youth Centre of Budapest, which offered us both financial and content based support. Furthermore as the European Youth Centre stands for “Access to Rights” and “Youth Participation” their policy framework was an ideal basis for the learning programme.
To kick-off the week with a positive vibe, there was a teambuilding. When participating in a study session it’s essential to know the other participants and where they come from. After this the first session took place. It introduced Human Rights and advocacy but also politics & policies and values were included in this session. The trainers provided an efficient week programme which contained interactive sessions, introducing all aspects of the advocacy cycle.
It’s not evident to learn about such a broaden topic in one week. To help to understand it more, DBYN invited two experts to explain in what way they advocate. They gave examples of how you could use it in your own organisation. One of the experts was Anca Sandescu. She is a Human Rights trainer and she clarified why Human Rights are so important when advocating for something: “I’m a true believer in the fact that we can build up a society in which we can respect everyone.” The second expert was Angel Gudiña. As executive secretary of Don Bosco International, he explained advocacy from a Salesian perspective and how he advocates towards European institutions and different policy networks.
At the end of the week there was the opportunity to start up an advocacy campaign. In this way the participants could turn their words into actions and show what advocacy means for them or for their organisations. The outcomes of this study session are a guidebook on youth advocacy, several local advocacy campaigns, and a working group on integrating the No Hate Speech Campaign in the participant’s local organisations.
Advocacy is a new strategic priority for DBYN. It’s part of our Master Plan 2018-2020 and we will continue working on this with our member organisations.
Together with the migration and Human Rights network of the European Youth Forum, DBYN is working on guidelines for the inclusion of young refugees in the work and structures of youth organisations. At the COMEM (Council of members) of the European Youth Forum in Cascais, a draft of the development process of the document and a current draft was presented. Participants contributed with further inputs and best practices tackling challenges youth organisations and young refugees face in order to participate in youth organisations and engage in their decision-making bodies.
Members of the Migration and Human Rights network started to work on the guidelines in June on the Network meeting in Brussels. From there, information was collected by interviews with youth organisations and young refugees, including member organisations of DBYN. At the COMEM a summary of these interviews was presented. The final document is still in process.
Whilst this session was an important opportunity for DBYN to stay engaged in the field of Migration and Human Rights and cooperate and get in contact with organisations working on this topic, the COMEM altogether is an essential part of DBYNs advocacy work. Next to updates of current work of the European Youth Forum – e.g. the www.transparencyatwork.org webpage tackling the problem of unpaid and quality internships – it also gives space for exchange of local initiatives and work of member organisations. One of the highlights this time was the policy paper on the Erasmus+ successor programme, which is of big importance for many youth organisations and young Europeans.
In June 2017 more than 9,000 unaccompanied foreign minors landed in Italy , vulnerable young people who, after a long voyage to the sea, are alone and exposed to various risks. An answer to this emergency is the figure of the volunteer tutor , introduced by law 47/2017 on "Provisions on measures to protect unaccompanied minors . "
The volunteer tutor is a private citizen who decides to carry out the legal representation of the child only, so that his rights are acknowledged: he supervises the reception conditions, promotes his psycho-physical well-being and monitors his educational and training paths integration.
As Salesiani per il Sociale, the emergency of foreign minors interrogates us first and calls us to give concrete answers. Given the multiplication of children arriving in our country, it is necessary to find new and motivated resources. This guide was born to guide all those citizens who want to respond to this appeal , providing all the information and requirements to become a volunteer tutor .
The Guidebook is only available in Italian. Click on the Picture to download the guidebook.
asmien Beckers (first standing on the right), youth representative for DBYN participated in the first meeting of the European Youth Forum's Migration and Human Rights network. This is a short press release on the event.
On 19 and 20 June the European Youth Forum’s Migration and Human Rights Network (MHRN) held its first meeting of 2017 in Brussels. The Network focuses on promoting the social inclusion and empowerment of as well as combatting discrimination against young refugees.
Eight youth organisations participated in the meeting, some of which are joining the Network for the first time. The Network took stock of the work that has been carried out since 2015, while participants exchanged on their organisations’ initiatives and projects.
Furthermore, participants agreed on the aims of the network. Among others, the Network aims to motivate youth organisations to include young refugees within their structures, and to ensure that young refugees are involved in decision-making processes.
The two main priorities the Network identified for 2017 are:
On the occasion of World Refugee Day on 20 June, Network members participated in the conference ‘Time to be welcome: youth work and integration of young refugees’, where they showcased their projects on non-formal education, advocacy for refugee rights, empowerment and skills development and raising awareness about refugees. The joint press release from the European Youth Forum, the World Organisation of the Scout Movement and the EU-Council of Europe partnership in the field of youth who organised the conference is available here.
The youth partnership between the European Union and the Council of Europe is going to publish a knowledge book on youth work with young refugees. When we received the call for abstracts, we thought this to be an unique opportunity to contribute to the topic from a Salesian perspective. Our German member organisation took the initiative of submitting the abstract: "Living under the same roof - a home for young apprentices and unaccompanied minor refugees right in the middle of Munich" by Benjamin Henn and Niklas Gregull. We are happy to announce that the abstract has been accepted, and we are invited to send the full article.
You can read the abstract here
Hi There! is a play project focused a young refugees and asylum seekers in Brussels. The project aims at developing the soft skills and competences the young refugees and asylum seekers need to successfully integrate in their local community. By the summer of 2018 the project aims to engage several as volunteers in the project as well.
Hi There! was initiated by Belgian participants of DBYN activities. During the "Speak up" training course they developed the motivation to do something for young refugees in Belgium, during the "Travel Beyond!" training course they developed the project management skills required to set-up such a project. The volunteers looked for peers who wanted to join the project, resulting in a larger team of volunteers which is still growing. They applied for funding at Droomfonds of the Don Bosco Foundation, for the necessary funding to start the project.
At the same time this project shows how institutional funding by the Council of Europe's European Youth Foundation (Speak up) and the European Union's Erasmus+ programme (Travel beyond) can lead to a longterm impact on local level. However, it still requires local financing and a huge effort of volunteers to actually implement the project.
Since its creation DBYN joined the working group on Migration & Human Rights, which was created within the European Youth Forum to tackle youth policy issues related to this field of work. We had several of our youth representatives joining in the first meetings, and we even hosted a part of this expert group's first seminar in Vienna. After the part elections at the General Assembly of the European Youth Forum, November 2016, the YFJ decided to make this a more formal working group of the Forum. Seeing the work several of our member organisations, as well as the whole global Don Bosco Movement is doing in this field, we wanted to support this working group. Therefore we are happy to announce that our youth representative Elisabeth Graf has been selected to join the working group. Through this blog we will keep you updated on her work in this working group.
We received the news that Claire-Eline Theyskens was selected to join the European Youth Forum's expert group on Education. Claire-Eline is member of DBYN's pool of trainers, has a long standing experience as trainer for our Belgian member organisation, and is currently studying pedagogical sciences. She has finished an internship at the Collegio Don Bosco in Zaragoza. This gives her a unique expertise both in formal and non-formal education, within the Don Bosco educational style. We are convinced that her engagement will be a strong support for the European Youth Forum's efforts in strengthening European educational systems
In this blog is Don Bosco Youth-Net collects and publishes its news, VLOGS, policy statements and other information linked to our advocacy work.