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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: http://simn-global.org.

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

21 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Maira Khan
Team

Brilliant idea ! Good luck with future endeavours.

Photo of SIMN Global
Team

Thanks, Maira!

Photo of abubakar Mbarak
Team

This is good, nurturing peaceful coexistence between migrants and locals among the young is a noble endeavor. This will ensure future generations continue with the same spirit by focusing training on the youth.
keep up the good work.

Photo of SIMN Global
Team

Thank you! We're just doing the best we can to support migrants and bring people together.

Photo of Nicole Ballou
Team

Hi SIMN Global 

This project is really grounded in the value of inclusion and human dignity! I would love to hear more about the role repairing bicycles plays in the camp. Are the bicycles sold after they are repaired? Do the migrants use them for transportation? Also, once the volunteers leave, what support to they provide to your organization? Are they advocates in their communities or at the national level to change the way migrants are included in society?

Best,
Nicole

Photo of SIMN Global
Team

Hi, Nicole! That's a great question. Since we're a relatively decentralized organization, I need to ask our folks in the field for more information. I'll get back to you on that. As for the volunteers, based on other users' questions, that seems like something we should do, i.e. figuring out a way to loop them back in and measure/track how they take what they learn home. Thank you!

Photo of SIMN Global
Team

Hey, Nicole! I just want to follow-up on your questions. The "ciclofficina" is essentially a roaming workshop that allows migrants to repair their bicycles at no cost, i.e. free parts, new wheels, etc. They use the bikes so they don't have to pay for public transportation (which can be expensive, especially for migrants). During the summer, the volunteers move the workshop around and help the migrants repair their bikes. In doing so they work closely with one another and build stronger bonds.

As for following up, much of the communication is via social media and email. Camp staff also meet every participant at least once afterward. The hope is that the volunteers take what they learn back home to change policies and attitudes around migration.

Photo of Nicole Ballou
Team

Hi SIMN Global !

Thanks for getting back to me. I've enjoyed hearing and learning more about your project. Such a great idea, approach, and impact!

Best of luck,
Nicole

Photo of SIMN Global
Team

Likewise, Nicole! Keep up the good work. Together we're making the world a better place.
- Patrick

Photo of Hank Millstein
Team

This is a wonderful project. I'd like to see a similar project here in the US--connecting immigrants, but also Muslims, who also face widespread bigotry.

Photo of SIMN Global
Team

Agreed! We think creating a culture of encounter between local populations and newcomers is the best way to break down stereotypes and build strong communities.

Photo of Gaby | Catholic Charities St. Paul & MSP
Team

Hi SIMN Global,
This is a fantastic project!
I'm curious to learn more about what happens after the 1-2 week program. Is there a feasible way to follow up with participants to ensure / check-in on how they are interacting with and understanding one another? Do the volunteers play a role after the program ends?
Thanks,
Gaby

Photo of SIMN Global
Team

Hey, Gaby! This is definitely something we should explore and I don't think it'd be too hard. I'll look into adding that into the proposal.

Photo of SIMN Global
Team

Hi, Gaby! To answer your question more fully, yes, there is follow up after the camp ends. Staff meet with every volunteer at least once and keep in contact with them via social media and email. For example, volunteers join and participate in Facebook groups where they can share information. The hope is that they turn what they learned into action back home, changing attitudes about migration.

Photo of Gaby | Catholic Charities St. Paul & MSP
Team

That sounds like a great way to keep participants engaged after they get home. Thanks for following up on my question!

Photo of SIMN Global
Team

Our pleasure, thanks for asking!

Photo of Marnie Glazier
Team

Very timely project idea! Especially in an age where increasing numbers of environmental refugees are in dire need of support and understanding.

Photo of SIMN Global
Team

Thanks, Marnie! We appreciate it.

Photo of Marnie Glazier
Team

Let me know if you would be interested in joining our team and collaborating!

Photo of SIMN Global
Team

We'd be happy to join you and help!

Photo of Marnie Glazier
Team

Excellent! I will add you to our team and look forward to talking more!