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Italy Refugee Program Celebrates First Anniversary

Project Abroad’s refugee program in Italy turns a year old

Refugees are taught at a day care centre on Project Abroad’s Refugee Project in Italy

Refugees are taught at a day care centre on Project Abroad’s Refugee Project in Italy

TORONTO – June 28, 2017 – This month, Project Abroad celebrates the first anniversary of its refugee program in Italy. Since the launch of the program in June 2016, nearly 200 Projects Abroad volunteers have generously offered their support to address various needs of refugees who have fled to Italy in search of a better life.

In its first year, the Projects Abroad refugee program has focused its efforts at three facilities where refugee support is needed: reception centres, day care centres, and a port where refugees who have fled across the Mediterranean Sea arrive. Volunteers have steadily been working with 40 unaccompanied minors at three different reception centres across the region of Calabria. At these centres, volunteers have provided educational support in literacy, numeracy, and sport. At day care centres, volunteers have looked after young children whose mothers need to attend language and integration classes. The roles of volunteers at the landing post have been to coordinate the distribution of food, water, clothes, and importantly to provide psychological support to incoming migrants – many of whom have had traumatic experiences.

The Project Manager of the Italy refugee program, Fabrizio Caddeo, is immensely grateful to the volunteers who have given time and energy to help refugees find a new home in Italy. “I would like to spend a word for the volunteer educators, coordinators, and psychologists who have dedicated their time to this purpose, who work day and night to help migrants fulfil their dream of having a better life. All migrants share a common goal, and that is the will to start a new life. Without assistance, this would not be possible.”

There have been many success stories that have emerged from the refugee program’s first year, but one stands out to Caddeo: “I remember a French speaking woman who volunteered for two months. She dedicated all her time to work on literacy with a group of French speaking young boys. Her contribution was crucial, as there were no other French speaking staff members available. When she arrived, some of the boys couldn’t read or write at all, and when she left all of them could.”

The ongoing refugee situation in Italy and Europe means that Projects Abroad needs continued volunteer support, as more migrants seek greener pastures away from abject living conditions in their home countries. “Volunteers play a very important role,” says Caddeo. “It is crucial to have volunteers who are seriously committed to help and meet new challenges, who come without prejudice, and are ready to embrace different cultures.”

As the refugee program moves into its second year, Projects Abroad is determined to continue impacting the lives of those who need assistance settling into their new surroundings.

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