Friday 13 January 2017
Work in progress for the construction of the network

A journey to discover the faces and stories of the young protagonists of the project “Making System Beyond Hospitality”.

He has a look that digs deep inside and the sweetest smile. You wouldn’t imagine what a miracle is that smile: Sicilian from Syracuse, eighteen years old, M. has lived most of his life in extremely poor conditions, kept hidden by her mother at home because she did not want the social services to take him away from her. He recently discovered that he has the right to exist as well, and it almost seems as if he is asking for permission. He tells me he is grateful for life and why it is like a blow in the stomach, he is grateful he been discovered by the police cultivating marijuana at home. Now he is in criminal arrangements with the institute of judicial probation, but since his arrest, “a new life” has begun – he says – turning a look of deep esteem to Gianvito, the president of the agricultural cooperative where he is now in charge of the care of the kitchen garden. That garden is indeed his new life: aeroponics technique, a technique – he explains – of cultivation without the use of soil, had given him already great results with marijuana, so now he can put his expertise to good use in broad daylight.

M. is one of the thirty young people in Sicily that are learning a skill through internships, apprenticeships or work grants, within the training and inclusion project “Making system beyond hospitality.”

There is also K., a nineteen-year-old Egyptian, which is involved in the same social farm taking care for the animals. While he proudly shows me the newborn piglets of the black pig, he tells me that his family thought he was not particularly smart, so when he was thirteen they put him on the boat while he was sleeping: arriving in Sicily, however, he has proven to be really smart and today looks after himself and even his family members with the support he receives for his internship.

There is H., twenty-four years old Nigerian, he is doing his internship as a storekeeper at the holding of Claudio. The business owner says that now H. is his right-arm man and he would like to hire him as soon as possible. There is also N. nineteen, from Ghana, who smiles while pushing the wheelbarrow, he takes care of the garden of a famous reception room, and the owner shows me some pictures of that August day when with him and all the employees, they spent a beautiful day at the beach: now he is part of the family.

And finally the liveliness of the four twenty-year-old young men from Catania bursts out while they pose for a picture in front of me and eagerly ask me to talk of their story all over Italy. They are excited to know that they will appear in a video presentation of the project: a few minutes of celebrity that makes them feel important! They are full of enthusiasm because along with their Ivorians, Malians, Bangladeshis and Egyptians classmates, after several hours of lessons to learn how to become warehouseman, they have just started the internship in the warehouses of four historic companies of Catania.

These are just some of the faces I met on my trip to Sicily. Without these meetings I could have only said that in Catania fifteen young people have begun the final internship of a training program on warehouseman profession, and that in Chiaramonte Gulfi (RG) and Petrosino (TP) fifteen young men are completing internships as agricultural and livestock workers, bakers, carpenters, gardeners.

But it would have been an understatement: the real protagonists are especially the smiles of these guys, their history and their hope, the passion with which they are learning a profession, the passion of the companies in training them professionally, the passion of the family in accompanying them in this path, the creative interference of experiences, the initiatives and proposals from various regions of Italy to extend this project and the network of relationships that is at the base of it all.
This is an alternative model of hospitality that can become a resource for all those who in different ways are involved in the project, by opening their homes and their businesses to the novelty of this challenge.

Valeria Lo Bello, AMU News n. 2/2016

Photo: Entrepreneur, community worker and a young trainee in one of the agricultural cooperatives participating in the project.

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