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23/5/2014 - Italy - Unaccompanied foreign minors: practical response of the Salesians

(ANS - Rome) - There are 53 unaccompanied migrant minors who are welcomed and accommodated in Salesians communities and family homes throughout Italy. "As Salesians involved in Social Care, we feel challenged once more to do something about the requests for help that come knocking at the door of our hearts." So said Fr Giovanni D’Andrea, President of the Federation of Social Services at the National Centre of Salesian works.

He went on to say, "With these young people we seem to relive what happened to Don Bosco in his meeting with Bartholomew Garelli, a young orphan from Asti who was trying his luck in Turin. He had arrived in the city alone and without any adult to refer to.” 

"I left Norsingdi in Bangladesh, to escape from poverty," said A, a resident in the Salesian home for young people at Torre Annunziata. "We were packed like sardines on a ship that abandoned us off the coast of Bari. During the night some boats transported us to the coast.  Our fellow  countrymen took us from there in small groups to the station and put us on trains for different destinations. We were terrified.  At home I have four  sisters who are with my mother. She has sold the only piece of land she had and is trying to raise €1,300 to pay the traffickers.  I was the only source of income after the death of my father twelve years ago. "

Fr Salvatore Scarpato, a Salesian priest from San Gregorio in Catania, says: "In our home we accommodate three migrant minors who arrived in Sicily undocumented. The problem is serious, if not dramatic. The house is full. Young people arrive here traumatized from the trip. They have no adult support and they do not speak Italian. The young migrants consider Italy a springboard to the countries of Northern Europe. They are orphans or are sent by family members, often widowed mothers, who regard them as their sole source of income. As soon as they get documents they flee.  With us they find a family.  We teach them Italian and make them feel at  home. They tell us they want to stay."

The Salesians and the Salesian NGO "International Volunteer Service for Development" are working every day to provide concrete answers to the needs of the migrants, in the belief that, as Pope Francis said, "only the cooperation of all can help prevent tragedies."

Published 23/05/2014

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