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14/10/2014 - Italy - Welcoming Migrants at Don Bosco Island

(ANS - Catania) - Tomorrow Wednesday 15 October will see the inauguration in Catania of Don Bosco Island, a project founded and strongly supported by three organizations of the Salesian family - the Federation of Salesian Social Services and two Salesian NGOs, VIDES and VIS. It aims to offer accommodation in response to the emergency migration that affects not only the Sicilian coast but the whole of Italy.

Over the past few months the Salesians, VIDES and VIS have engaged in organized study, reflection and planning on how best to welcome the immigrants who land on the shores of Sicily. Don Bosco Island will serve as an integrated project which involves intervention on two levels: first to welcome migrants in Sicily, in the region where they arrive, and then to provide reception facilities throughout the country.

Fr Giovanni D'Andrea, Director of Salesian Social Services, says: "What we are starting today is a further response to other initiatives already in place. For some time now we have been welcoming migrants, especially unaccompanied minors in the Family Homes of the Federation of Salesian Social Services. We collaborate with other organizations in different places in Sicily. We want the establishment of Don Bosco Island to be the first step in creating a network of solidarity that involves the whole Salesian family in Italy."

"Living the Christian Gospel means welcoming the stranger as a gesture of charity and solidarity just as Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello taught us." These are the words of Sr. Joan Montagnoli, Director General of VIDES in Italy.

"Underlying this new effort is the understanding that the changed situations of our time require us to create new models of intervention. We must promote a more integrated approach and network, "said Nico Lotta, president of VIS.

As soon as agreement is reached with the authorities in Catania, a first Reception Centre will open at the Don Bosco Centre at Plaia in Catania. The atmosphere will be Salesian - friendly, hospitable, caring, preventive, and supportive. The centre will accommodate between fifty and eighty migrants who can remain there for 90-120 days. They will receive medical treatment and help in processing their application for asylum. The residents will receive courses in Italian and Italian culture, information technology and citizenship.  Each one will be assisted in the process of defining their individual migration project.

In addition to the reception centre in Plaia, there will be another centre in Catania called "Don Bosco for the young people of the world." This will be a highly symbolic place, where members of various Salesian associations and others from the world of education and professional training will be able to avail of intercultural training. It will provide a venue where people can meet for dialogue and discussion on issues and questions concerning integration, and also a place to celebrate.

Published 14/10/2014

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