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.
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.
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
On the first anniversary of the acceptance by the United Nations of the Sustainable Development Agenda till 2030, Don Bosco Network is launching A Salesian Response to the 2030 Agenda, emphasizing the commitment of Don Bosco organizations to the advancement of “poor and abandoned youth”. The Sustainable Development Goals were signed exactly a year ago and represent a challenge for the next 15 years. Unlike the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were destined for developing countries, particularly the poorest, these apply to all countries, rich and poor. There are 17 Objectives that, with the accompanying 169 goals, constitute an agenda of progress and social transformation that will be achieved only if all stakeholders (governments, civil society, religious and private organizations) come together and work together. Don Bosco Youth-Net ivzw is one of the 18 co-signatories of this policy statement from the worldwide Don Bosco Movement.
In this blog is Don Bosco Youth-Net collects and publishes its news, VLOGS, policy statements and other information linked to our advocacy work.