Sunday 7 January 2018
Hope returns in Syria – News from AMU projects

Click to enlarge the image

The situation in Syria has evolved very rapidly in the last six months. The Syrian government has been able to free and reacquire cities, villages and land that was occupied by ISIS or by other armed factions.

Since December 2016, the entire city of Aleppo has returned under the control of the Syrian government. Life is slowly returning to normal. Displacements are long and difficult. Drinking water comes every 3 days and electricity is more regular than before.

The main problems remain the high cost of living, the lack of work on the one hand and the lack of young people and specialized manpower on the other. This is mainly due to migration and the continuous and massive military recruitment. Another phenomenon of great concern is the increase of street children (orphans or abandoned), beggars, displaced people in search of food and basic necessities.

These conditions of life are also found in other large cities such as Damascus and Homs.

In recent years the Church has tried to live its “vocation” – as defined by the Catholic bishop Georges Abou Khazen, Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo – to testify Christ by underlining the need for reconciliation and peaceful coexistence among all the parties, in a country where 23 different ethnic and religious groups live. A work that we are trying to achieve also thanks to the aid from all over the world and that has served to bring together a population divided by war.

From AMU Notizie – 2 – 2017

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Thursday 28 December 2017
Best wishes for joy and peace

The light of each faith

of Katiuscia Carnà

On the occasion of the Holy Christmas, which for Christians represents birth, is rooted the festival of light. For the populations of the northern hemisphere, it is linked to the winter solstice, going beyond any creed. A light illuminates the darkness and the obscurity, representing for many religions the way in which God or a deity manifests itself. The luminosity is a feature common to many deities from ancient civilizations, to the religions of the Book, to the Eastern ones that we generally feel more distant from ours. The light in Christianity is the Birth of Christ that gives itself to Humanity, it is the mantle of God’s presence, it is the renewal from the darkness, a divine gift.

« The rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death »  (Luke 1,78-79)

The Jewish holiday of light, the Hannukah, corresponds in a certain sense to Christmas and falls on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev corresponding this year to December 12th and includes the lighting of candles for eight nights. It is the second most important religious celebration of the Jewish people, during which the consecration of the new altar in the Temple of Jerusalem in 161 BC is commemorated and therefore the liberation of Israel from the Greek occupiers.

« There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.» (Ap 22,5)

In Islam “an Nur”, the light is a metaphor of faith and the opposite of the darkness of unbelief, is celebrated on the occasion of the most important festival, Eid al-Fitr, at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, during which Muslims give thanks to God on a day of celebration.

« Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. His Light (in the Universe) may be likened to a niche wherein is a lamp, and the lamp is in the crystal which shines in star-like brilliance. It is lit from (the oil) of a blessed olive tree that is neither eastern nor western. Its oil well nigh glows forth (of itself) though no fire touched it: Light upon Light. Allah guides to His Light whom He wills. Allah sets forth parables to make people understand. Allah knows everything.» (Quran, 24:35)

Gathering all together to rediscover the light is our wish for this period of festivity and the commitment we renew in our work and in the projects that we carry forward every day thanks to your precious support.


Monday 23 October 2017
LABORAMOR – A love lab (to support projects in Egypt)

A story of solidarity that unites the women of Sardinia with the women of El Cairo. 

Ozieri is a beautiful town perched on the mountains of the province of Sassari. It is renowned in Sardinia and in Italy to be the centre of the so-called “Logudoro”, or “Golden place”. Here a group of ladies decided to dedicate themselves to their traditional art of embroidery.
It’s a way to spend free time, stay together, preserve and pass on an important local tradition to younger people and, above all, a way to raise funds and support one of AMU’s projects.

In fact, “le ragazze del LaborAmor (the “Love Lab Girls”)”, this is how the lab is called and how friends and fellow citizens call them, are capable to magically embroider all kinds of household linen and then resold their artefacts on three annual markets.
The proceeds of these sales partly go to the emergencies and needs of the local community and largely to AMU’s project in Egypt, “Chance for tomorrow”.

Lately, Nevin, the coordinator of the project, came from Egypt and was welcomed by the girls of LaborAmor in Sardinia. The exchange of emotions was really intense: Ozieri’s women showed their work, and at the same time involved Nevin the afternoon in their laborious and joyful style. She has told how life takes place at KozKazah, the foundation of AMU’s partner.

In Shubra, one of the most difficult and poor suburbs of El Cairo, every day hundreds of children and women are together, overcoming any difference and distrust associated with age, sex, or, above all, religion. Just as friendship and fraternity joins Ozieri’s women, so every day in Koz Kazah we try to build a large family to accommodate, after school, children that would otherwise be under difficult and dangerous conditions, and to teach women to find the place and dignity within society. Muslim boys and girls, who are the majority, spend the afternoon with Christian boys and girls, playing together, studying or learning to build small artefacts.
Nevin told how the Muslim women wanted to spontaneously record a video message when the local Christian community was upset by a massacre of innocents, killed just as they were celebrating Mass. It was a message full of understanding, love and respect. And it was also a request not to believe that those were the true Muslims:

The thread that unites the “girls of Ozieri” and the women of the Koz Kozah centre is one of the extraordinary effects of this all-female solidarity.

Wednesday 18 October 2017
A decent job! Here are the first results of the PROFOR project.

Building a system for respectable work is one of the goals of the PROFOR project – PROGRAM FOR THE STRENGTHENING COMMUNION INCLUSIVE BUSINESSES. The aims of the projects are to start-up and support the entrepreneurship of people that are in socio-economic difficulties.

The results are already clear. After the training phase, the receiving of the funds and the support of consultants and coaches for the start-up phase, six out of eight businesses are in business and one is about to start in the healthcare sector.
The Frutos da Terra project in Rio de Janeiro, which concerns the production of frozen vegetables (cultivation, harvesting and processing), continues to grow. Machinery was purchased with start-up capital and the building has been restructured and reorganized. In addition, training courses have been developed to employ local women in the preparation of the vegetables.
The project also received several awards. Waldemar proposed this idea for the improvement of the rural community and for the benefit and direct support of 15 farmers. It has furthermore been proposed for a partnership with a young member of the community in which the company resides.
The freezing-related agriculture project also had set up exchanges with the university up to an agreement that allows students to use the farm as a social lab.

Campo Fértil in Pernambuco is a cooperative that produces organic vegetables. Thanks to the start-up capital obtained with the project, a truck was purchased that improved production and therefore increased income (profitability went from R $ 6,000 (1,800 Euros) to R $ 18,000 (5,365 Euros)).
Much of this capital was used for the construction of a processing plant. The number of direct jobs created in this process is 8 units, and the number of families involved has increased from 11 to 20. The cooperative is structuring and organizing more and more, and the entrepreneur has decided to open up to a new market: the sale to private people who live nearby, with a delivery at home service.

Also the manager of Premosam, a company that builds prefabricated buildings in Pernambuco is finding confidence and is changing attitude towards his business, thanks to the courses that the project’s coaches proposed. With the start-up capital, new equipment was purchased in order to respond better to the demands. The company’s consolidation has also allowed the entrepreneur to welcome his brother who was unemployed. Once again solidarity multiplies, starting in a form and assuming several others.

Tuesday 17 October 2017
One year after the 2016 earthquake, with RImPRESA we want to look to the future.

These days mark a year from the terrible earthquake that involved the Amatrice area and which affected Central Italy. On this occasion we have collected the stories directly from the protagonists of the project RImPRESA.
Despite many months have passed by; the pain for the loss of nearly 300 victims and for their families is still strong. The memory is still alive and the signs of collapse, isolation, fear of possible new shocks and consequent damage are still present and clearly visible in the territory. But we want to talk about those days thinking about the future.
This is a future that will be rebuilt, thanks to those who survived, and did not loose the courage, and wanted to keep hoping. It will be a future to which we will look with humility and perseverance.
We want to tell the stories of Stefania, Pietro, Maria Josè, and Federica’s commitment and the support of the Cia – Confederazione italiana agricoltori – and that of the Civil Protection.
They are all parts of a story built together, all actors and protagonists of RImPRESA, the project that supporting local companies, has allowed them to continue or resume production.
Thanks to all the friends (as well as partner associations: Associazione Famiglie Nuove, AIPEC, Movimento dei Focolari, B & F Foundation, Abbraccio Planetario) who contributed with donations, with their work and their ideas to the success of the project. On this anniversary, we want to hear the stories of the protagonists, their new faith, and their relationship with their territory they want to preserve.