OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Campo Io Ci Sto

Building bridges between young people, migrants, and refugees in southern Italy.

Photo of SIMN Global

Written by

Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

This idea expands Campo Io Ci Sto, a summer service program that helps young people work alongside and build relationships with migrants in the southeastern Italian province of Foggia. Every season thousands of undocumented workers arrive in the region for the harvest and planting of agricultural products, especially tomatoes and wheat. Originally from countries like Mali, Togo, Bangladesh, and Iraq, they are paid less than half the legal minimum wage (€2,50/€3,50 per hour instead of €8) and endure physical and sexual abuse. Situations like this have created a deep divide between Italians and migrants, who are treated as second-class citizens. Neither of these groups interact with, understand, or accept one another. The Scalabrini missionaries of Siponto and the Catholic Diocese of Manfredonia organized Campo Io Ci Sto to address this problem. The camp welcomes 180 Italian volunteers between the ages of 18 and 30 to Foggia every year. For one-to-two-weeks in July or August, they participate in immigration training seminars and work directly with migrants, teaching them Italian, listening to their stories, and running a "ciclofficina" where they can repair their bicycles for free (public transportation is expensive). These activities forge strong bonds between the volunteers, the residents of Foggia, and migrant workers. By bringing people together Campo Io Ci Sto encourages interaction and empathy, transforming negative narratives about migrants. African and Middle Eastern workers cease to be "the other"—a nameless, faceless entity—and instead become humans with unique stories. Migrants likewise gain a better understanding of the local population and Italians in general as well as critical language skills and free bike repairs. Through Campo Io Ci Sto, Italians and migrants come to understand, value, and accept one another in Foggia and beyond. They are not enemies, but friends.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Young Italian volunteers aged 18-30, who gain new perspectives on migration and migrants and learn how to serve others; African and Middle Eastern migrant workers/refugees from Mali, Gambia, Senegal, Morocco, Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan, Bangladesh, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, Afghanistan, and Iraq, who receive basic Italian language skills and free bike repairs, build stronger relationships with natives, and learn how to avoid or escape exploitation; and the local Italian population, which lives in greater peace with its new neighbors.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

This idea is unique because of its connection to the Scalabrini congregation, which Blessed Bishop John Baptist Scalabrini founded in 1887 to serve Italian migrants in the Americas. No other nonprofit in the migration space enjoys the knowledge and trust that SIMN does in Italy.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Full Scale Roll Out: I have already tested and scaled this idea significantly with the intended user base.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

The Scalabrini International Migration Network (SIMN) is a nonprofit organization founded by the Congregation of the Missionaries of St. Charles, Scalabrinians, to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate migrants, refugees, internally displaced people, and seafarers across the globe. SIMN provides food, shelter, medical care, psychological counseling, documentation, vocational training, and other services to 400,000 people on the move in 34 countries. Learn more at:

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

This project was inspired by rising xenophobia in Italy. Faced with an influx of Middle Eastern and African refugees, Italians have responded with trepidation and sometimes violence. Populist political parties like Lega Nord (Northern League) and the Five Star Movement used that to their advantage in recent elections. If there is to be peace, it is imperative that both communities, Italians and migrants, learn from, understand, and accept one another. Campo Io Ci Sto is part of the solution.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Peace and prosperity lie at the heart of Campo Io Ci Sto. Over the past five years, increased migration from Africa and the Middle East has divided Italy. While some people welcomed refugees with open arms, many did not. Radical right-wing parties like Lega Nord took advantage, fueling tensions on a local and national level. Communities like Foggia were torn apart and peace disappeared. Prosperity from an economic and individual point of view also suffered, since undocumented migrants were forced to work for extremely low wages in slave-like conditions. Campo Io Ci Sto addresses both of these topic areas in Foggia by attempting to patch social divisions and helping migrants escape or avoid exploitation.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

The local Catholic Diocese of Manfredonia supports the Scalabrini missionaries running Campo Io Ci Sto, while other Catholic dioceses across Italy provide the volunteers. They screen and prepare everyone who signs up.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

The community of Foggia is home to thousands of migrants during the agricultural season, making it a perfect place to run Campo Io Ci Sto. It is also geographically close to the town of Siponto, which has a strong Scalabrini presence.

Geographic Focus

This idea targets the Italian province of Foggia in the southeastern region of Puglia.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

This project will be implemented within 24 months.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of Maira Khan

Brilliant idea ! Good luck with future endeavours.

Photo of SIMN Global

Thanks, Maira!

View all comments