Italy – "Free to leave, free to stay": experience of solidarity and redemption matured at Salesian center in Castel de' Britti

17 November 2020

(ANS - Bologna) - "Free to leave, free to stay" was a three-year campaign (2017-2020) of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) aimed at raising awareness among the Italian population on the issue of migration and carrying out development projects in the countries of departure, transit and reception of migrants, especially the most vulnerable. The Salesian Vocational Training Center in Castel de’ Britti, near Bologna, was one of the locations for its implementation.

Women freed from human trafficking, prostitution, assistance for unaccompanied minors, job training: these are just a few examples of how the project “Free to leave, free to stay” has concretely enabled the redemption of many migrants.

In the diocese of Bologna, the Italian Caritas has set up a project starting from 2018, which involved four entities already operating in the area: the "Albero di Cirene" association, the "Papa Giovanni XXIII" association, the "Centro Nazionale Opere Salesiane – Formazione Aggiornamento Professionale" of Emilia Romagna, and the social cooperative "Ceis Arte".

“This type of experience,” explains Elisabetta Cecchieri, head of the diocesan Caritas for the project 'Free to leave, free to stay', “has allowed us to work and think together on concrete solutions and to get to know each other even better. We wanted to create a control room to better invest in our territory.”

In detail, the "Tree of Cyrene", which has aid activities in the streets, has chosen to create training courses for young volunteers and has implemented the reception capacity for women freed from trafficking. The “Ceis Arte”, at its shelter for unaccompanied foreign minors, has promoted a school of Italian culture as a service for greater reception and integration.

Two projects have also been activated in the center of Castel de' Britti, including a course for welders. The project took place between April 2018 and March 2020 for a total duration of about 50 hours, plus training on workplace safety. “Both minors and adults took part, 9 in total, including some reported by the Public Personal Services Company,” explained Lucia Mele, from the Salesian center. In Italy, the qualification as Welder requires a license which, depending on the type of work, requires updating and its cost is circa 1,500 euros – an amount that is out of reach for most of the young people of the Salesian VTC.

But these young people “having formation, partly carried out in the firm, can still entice employers to hire them. The employer will then provide for the license,” assures Dr. Mele. And, in fact, this path has already paid off, leading to the employment of several young people recently.



ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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