[:en]If you believe in something, it will happen![:]

[:en]Since 14th of May I started my mobility, within the Erasmus + program, in Salamanca (Spain) where I spent two months, it was in fact until July.

There, I have been working as assistant project of several European project such as uCivic and Siep, but the principal one was the project called “IRETI -Empowering Women and Strengthening Socioeconomic integration”. The name of the project IRETI means hope and it comes from the Yoruba language, spoken by the majority in Nigeria. This name was decided in function of the fact that the first aim of the project in itself is to give hope to the women victims of Trafficking in persons. Those people are most of the times young women especially from Nigeria; but it is consistent also the presence of women from Romania, East Europe and Asia. The second aim but not less important is to support them by fostering processes of ties. Nevertheless, the project includes also activities that will allow partner organizations to exchange experience, methods and good practices.

These two months have been intensive and full of commitments, but really satisfactory. My main duty concerned this project was to collect data from every partners Romania, Spain, Italy and England and organize them in a systematic way for the creation of an online platform. In particular, I was in charge to collect information regarding the partners involved in concrete in the project, the actions put in place and the ones to obtain more visibility, but also data concerning the local hot spot/ hot line who can be considered a help in fighting this huge and global phenomenon. All of this work has been done in order to create a platform that will be used to provide services and opportunities to the woman victims of Human Trafficking, who needs help to get out from the exploitation. The idea is to create something concreate to decrease the average of exploited people at the European level, and it is for this reason that all the country partners make their efforts in accomplish the result. There is a strong awareness that only through the cooperation and the collaboration worldwide is possible to combat this enormous crisis humanitarian that is affecting the whole Europe.

During these months, I had the chance to meet entities and associations at the national and regional level who are present in the city. They have been selected as stakeholders who work on the social field for the rights’ protection of vulnerable people. One of those, that have particularly catch my attention, was CASA ESCUELA SANTIAGO UNO. That is a wonderful reality that allow teenagers to start learning something that can be their future work, for example hairdresser or builder, but in the same time they have the possibility to live there. It is not a school how we can intend it normally, and it is not just a home. I had the impression that we easily could define that as school of life. Another beautiful thing inside of this institution is the fact that girls and boys have the possibility to take part to the several activities provided by volunteers or educators. Just to name, one is how to perform juggling and magic show.

Other associations with who I had contact has been ARPRAM. That is a national association with several different locations in all the Spain. Their work is closer to the main aim of the project; in fact, they work directly with the women that wee force to work as prostitutes during the night. Another really interesting experience was the meeting that I had with the responsible of the EUROPE DIRECT OFFICE, where I have been. There, the confront among us was really stimulating and full of input of reflections on the challenges facing Europe and on its future.

 

Another important part of my staying in Salamanca and working in BB&R was the possibility I had, to know new people and learn new things. In this sense, I had some Spanish lessons with a great and patient teacher M. Elisa, with her I spent most of my working time out of the office and I found a person with many interests and many histories to tell. M. Eliza as fundamental part of the project and of my staying in Salamanca supported me in all the visit to the entities, but also in making me discovering the city and in pushing me in improving my language skills.

In Addition to that, I took part of two courses regarding the IT System. To be more precise I have attended the first course with Daniel Gonzalo about the use and the ability to exploit the social media at the maximum, and then obtain the maximum share of visualization and sharing. He has revealed me some tricks that I would not have known otherwise. The second course was, instead, about the creation of webpages with Roberto. Also the latter has been interesting, for me, above all because it is something really far from what I have studied and secondly because it is nowadays so important to have IT abilities that I cannot reject the opportunity to learn something new. At this propose, during all the months I have discovered software and programs (Powtoon, Joomla) that I can easily use to work in other circumstances and as important as the first I have improved my use of programs such as Excel, PowerPoint, Internet, social media and so on.

 

To conclude this brief summary of my experience here, I would like to thank everyone who crossed my path, who taught me something new, and all the people that made this experience so productive and nice. At the same time, I would like to say that it was one of the most beautiful and interesting experience made until now, for this reason I would love to have the possibility to still stay here and work with You.

 

 

Ornella Guarino[:]

[:en]Federica, flyed to Bucharest through IRETI project, shares her two-month experience[:]

[:en]Federica spent two months in Bucharest participating in the IRETI project. She did her traineeship in some Romanian organizations focusing on data analysis and communication through social media and learning more about migration and human trafficking. 

 

“I did not know anything about Bucharest, but I was ready to let me surprise by it. And this is what happened. Already in the first week I had fell in love with the city, so familiar to me even if had never been there: in short words, I felt at home. With these positive feelings I started my traineeship experience.

 

Through the IRETI project I had the opportunity to work as a trainee in a Romanian non-governmental organization called Novapolis Association, enhancing my competences in data analysis. It was really stimulating to study data about attitudes and practices of Romanian employers towards migrant employees, as well as to write a report about those data. I could learn more about practices adopted by Romanian employers to integrate migrant workers in the workplace and I understood the importance of social integration of migrants and its positive implications. 

 

My traineeship focused also on communication through social media, in particular Instagram. I was responsible of the IG account of IRETI project, therefore I created and implemented a communication strategy. It was so passionating to create contents and I could discover more about the reality of human trafficking within Europe. For example, over the years 2010-2012 30,146 victims were registered in the 28 EU Member States;  80% of registered victims were female and 69% of victims were trafficked for sexual exploitation. Victims came from EU (the first country is Romania) as well as non-EU countries (the first one is Nigeria). The fact that the highest percentage of internally trafficked victims (victims who are trafficked within their own country of origin) is in Romania struck me a lot and made me know another face of human trafficking, that is internal trafficking. 

 

During my traineeship I had also the opportunity to collect some data regarding social integration of migrants in Romania. This was the most challenging activity among the ones I have done and thanks to it I have understood that collecting data regarding migrants can be difficult for many reasons. For example, lack of a common language between the interviewer and the interviewed is a great obstacle, therefore a questionnaire prepared for data collection should be adapted to the educational background of the interviewed and his/her proficiency level in the language chosen for collecting data; moreover, a questionnaire should not use complicated concepts and/or sentences that could not be understood by the interviewer. I will keep all these considerations in mind next time I interview a migrant or another person, not taking for granted that we have a common educational and language background. 

 

In conclusion, I have acquired two more things after my experience in Bucharest: more knowledge and a new place that I can call “home”! “

 

Federica Piscitello[:]

[:en]FINN Conference – Malta[:]

[:en]

The Freedom Is Not Negotiable (FINN) conference took place in Malta, St. Julian’s, on the 16th of March 2019, and was organized by Cross Cultural International Foundation (CCIF). CCIF is a non-profit organization that has been stationed in Malta since 2012, and it is one of the organizations that H.R.Y.O is cooperating with on many different projects. The conference was a part of different activities connected to a project funded by the Malta Community Chest Fund (MCCF) with the purpose of doing preventative anti- human trafficking work.

The conference started with a performance of elementary school children that had created a role-play, and an informing presentation to show what they had learned about human trafficking. Involving children in the work against human trafficking is of high relevance, as children from an early age needs to understand the dangers as well as recognize suspicious behavior and situations. Especially with the potential modern threat of the Internet and social medias, which makes it easier for predators to approach children. The performance was followed by short welcoming remarks by CCIF president Alec Douglas who among other things talked about the project activities, and the approach they have used, where their focus is to involve all the relevant stakeholders in the Maltese community (such a politicians, authorities, civil community, schools, NGO´s…) to create awareness, and find concrete solutions to work against human trafficking. The welcoming remarks were followed by a speech by the Maltese President Mrs. Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, and then a speech by the Parliamentary Secretary Julia Farrugia Portelli.

CCIF invited two former victims of human trafficking as speakers at the conference to share their stories. Although their stories were quite unique and different, both gave us an insight into different ways a person can be subject to human trafficking. Human trafficking is a wide subject, and people’s idea of human trafficking is often limited to the more “visible” forms of trafficking, where one person is abducted and the captivity is physical and clear between the trafficker and victim.

The stories told by the former victims demonstrated different forms of human trafficking where the victims were held captive with “invisible chains”, and did not necessarily know they were victims of human trafficking.. To prohibit this kind of human trafficking, the speakers pointed out that access to healthy role-models, creating awareness and involving the subject in school curriculums, are important methods to prohibit it.

A major part of the conference was to involve the youth participants: therefore CCIF arranged workshops. The participants were divided into two groups, where one group discussed how the youths could be more engaged in the work against human trafficking and how to raise awareness while the other group discussed the political policies and structures that needs to be changed order to create more effective work to end human trafficking. There was a diversity of participants at the conference, and came from different countries, with diverse backgrounds (educational, social and professional) and life- experiences. This made the workshop educational and productive in the sense of sharing knowledge, and point of views on different aspects of the subject.

The conference was highly informative and interactive and opened our eyes to new ways to engage the youths in the work against human trafficking as well as ways to raise awareness. H.R.Y.O will use this knowledge to in a better way work against human trafficking in Palermo.[:]

[:en]Prevention of trafficking in human beings – a conference with a special focus on victims from Nigeria[:]

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Nigeria is a source, transit and destination of human trafficking, and especially when it comes to sexual exploitation of women and children. On a global level, Nigeria is the largest source of trafficked human beings, where most of them are trafficked to Asia and Europe for sexual exploitation.  The people who are trafficked are often low educated and low skilled.

There are numerous reasons why Nigerians ends up in human trafficking. The main factor is the socio-economic situation in Nigeria. The situation is for many Nigerians hopeless, children are often forced to work instead of going to school due to poverty, there is severe economic hardship, with few opportunities, and millions are unemployed, there is also bad economic policies, brain drain and bad foreign exchange.  This leads people to migrate to Europe for better opportunities, or families might force one of their children to migrate or into trafficking with the belief that it will benefit the family economically.  Other reasons include, ethno-religious violence, gender-based discrimination, and polygamy – where women often lose their inheritance, property and income and are subject to discrimination, isolation and stigma.

Many Nigerians migrate to look for better opportunities and a brighter future in Europe, but it comes with an enormous cost. The most common routes to take are through Libya and then go to Italy, and then from Morocco to go to Spain. Many Nigerians are often stranded in these two transit countries, and are facing abuse and violence, and many women and girls are forced into sex trafficking. Many people are also often lured into trafficking, by people who claim to help them over to Europe, but are betraying their trust and force them into trafficking.

Nigeria has migration laws and policies, but it is difficult to have control of the boarders and who is entering the country. This is due to the pattern of migration, the porous, and poorly managed borders in the desert, and the economic partnership agreement ECOWAS (Economic Community Of West African States) opens up for free labor movement between the member states in the west, hence transnational movement of trafficked human beings in and out of Nigeria is problematic.

There is also numerous of issues related to trafficked women who return to their home community. First of all, often due to the ignorance of the people in their home community – the victims often don’t speak about what they have been experiencing.  Secondly, the returnees often feel hopeless and shameful, and have lost their dignity and self-esteem, and there is a lot of stigma around the. Homelessness is also common. Many victims might develop anti-social behavior, drug abuse or go back into prostitution.

Due to the hopeless situation in Nigeria, the youths often have resentment towards the government, and no longer believe that hard work will pay off. The youths are desperate, and are often suffering from the “get rich quick syndrome” – which leads them into fraud and criminal activities.

Native, local, doctors in Nigeria are also luring women into prostitution and trafficking, where women are subject to voodoo, and have to take an oath of secrecy. This lead them to fear for themselves and their families well-being if they don’t keep their oath, and are also not likely to cooperate with the police in the destination country to get out of sex trafficking.

Practices to prevent human trafficking

Throughout the whole conference representatives from different organizations and countries have shared their practices when it comes to preventing human trafficking.

Prevention, awareness and protection in country of origin

Prevention in the country of origin is the key to end human trafficking. Educating youths and children form an early age about human trafficking cuts the rates of trafficked human beings within the community. People should be informed about all the risks and issues of trafficking and the possibility of legal migration, work abroad and their rights.  There are many ways different organizations work on preventing human trafficking;

Most of the prevention actions are targeting children and youths. Secondary school children are often targeted for human trafficking, as traffickers take advantage of their ignorance and naivety. Therefore one organization has created an “anti-trafficking handbook” for schools, to raise awareness from and early age as well as educate girls on the “red flags”. Other organizations are trying to prevent human trafficking by involving the schools and the school community to raise awareness, and talk about human trafficking and the issues surrounding the topic in each subject in the school, as well as creating a safe place for the children and youths where they have adults they can trust. Attitudes towards gender stereotypes also need to be challenged, and changed. The school should be a place where boys and girls are seen as equal. Another common action towards the prevention of human trafficking in the country of origin is prevention and awareness campaigns, where stories of victims are told and information given.

The involvement of community leaders is also important in the prevention of human trafficking. Community leaders have a lot of power and can reach out to the whole community – as prevention of human trafficking only can be tackled through collaboration and unity – the community leaders plays an important role. The local community itself also plays an important role when it comes to reintegration of trafficked human beings – they need to be accepting and understanding so the victims can recover.

Another organization has a different approach in preventing human trafficking. As one of the main reasons for human trafficking is the huge flow of migration from Nigeria due to the socio-economic situation of the country and the high number of unemployment, this organization is focusing on creating work opportunities for youths in the country of origin. In addition to work opportunities, they are offering skill training and courses.

 

Protection and support in the destination country

Trafficked human beings are often invisible, with no rights in the destination countries.  The challenges they are dealing with are both legal and social as well as challenges regarding health and safety.

When it comes to the legal challenges, human trafficking victims are struggling with migration policies, asylum applications and legal residence. Many victims are staying in the destination country illegally and are lacking proper identification documents, and without legal residence these victims have no rights – among other things they cannot get a job, they cannot get education, they cannot get medical attention and they cannot get proper protection. Many organizations are helping with these legal issues, for example by helping victims obtain their original identification from their home country so they can apply for asylum or having a medical clinic for migrants/victims where there is no need to have documentation or help out with lawyers in court in the prosecution of traffickers.

When it comes to the social challenges, victims of human trafficking are struggling with integration, language, work, food, housing, discrimination, and information. There are multiple organizations around Europe that helps the victims with these issues, some have centers where the victims can stay and eat as well as get training, counseling, psychological help and information about their rights and opportunities. Other organizations are offering language or training courses or helping with housing and work, and some organizations are offering different kinds of assistance and support. There are also a few organizations that help victims of human trafficking in returning to their home country.

One of the main issues when it comes to victims of human trafficking is their fear and lack of trust in the police and social services, and fears the repercussions on themselves or their family if they go to the police, as well as they often don’t see themselves as victims.  Due to this, many organizations are focusing on training specialists, social workers, police, and others who work with victims to deal with these issues.

There are also schools that acknowledge the different problems of human trafficking and trying to tackle it by raising awareness and informing the youths, in order to make them aware, active and engaged. In schools, many relationships are created and knowledge and ideas exchanged, and schools have many tools that should be utilized – demonstration is for example one useful tool to raise awareness and inform about sexual exploitation and modern slavery.

Furthermore, the collaboration of different organizations and networks that protect victims of human rights are of high importance and is making a big difference.

 

Research findings

The conference was based on a extensive project, where research in different countries was the main part. Researchers from the respective countries Italy, Austria, Germany, Malta and Spain presented the following findings:

Italy
The Arab spring, the economic crisis in Nigeria and Boko Haram, are all factors for an increased migrant flow from Nigeria and hence more human trafficking. Migrants meet people who say they will help them – but they are cheating and lying. Both men and women are being lured/forced into human trafficking in Libya – which is a transit country for Nigerians migrating to Europe. Criminal organizations will take advantage of any situation.

Before people organized fake documents and sent them with flights to Europe, but now people are not taking this route – instead people are smuggled without documents.  In Italy trafficked human beings can apply for asylum, but this can take up to 3 years, and in the meantime, without resident permit, the victims of human trafficking have few rights, and are often exploited. However, many of these people will eventually get national protection – but it’s difficult if they don’t have documentation.

Austria
There is not many Nigerian victims in the Austrian asylum system: 4% of 42,000 in 2016, where 2% were granted asylum. It is the police and the social sector that identify victims of human trafficking. However Nigerian victims do not often cooperate with the police and often don’t see themselves as victims. Therefore NGOs and the frontline identify many more victims than the police. Some trends found in the research were that women often are exploiters or traffickers, so called “madams”, and that women dominate the trafficking industry and that trafficked Nigerian minors are told to be of age.

Germany
Germany is a destination for human trafficking, and there are a huge number of non-identified trafficked human beings. Identification is important in order to start giving them a new life and protection.  Therefore they see that social training for identifying and dealing with human trafficking is needed, for police and other social/public institutions. The victims usually arrive from Italy or Spain, and it is usually social workers that identify victims.

Malta
Malta is a source, transit and destination for human trafficking, but there have been a positive development on this issue in the past years. In the legal framework, human trafficking is criminalized. And the legislation on gender-based violence and domestic violence aims to protect the victims. However, brothels in Malta are usually disguised as beauty or massage saloons, and previously such saloons needed a license to operate, but not anymore which makes it difficult to investigate.

Some of the trends that were found was that the majority victims of sexual exploitation in Malta are from Asia and Romania.  Recruitment into human trafficking happens in many forms: by madams, through the “boyfriend” method, by traffickers and by spiritual contracts/oaths/voodoo. The researcher have also encountered multiple issues, first of all, there is issues with data, its difficult to get sufficient data materials, secondly trafficked human beings disappear from the systems, there is a under-reporting of cases, there is no adequate knowledge about human trafficking and its lack of coordination among stakeholders.

Spain
The routes Nigerians take to get to Europe is usually through either Libya or Morocco. The trip to get to these countries often takes 1,5 years. Nigerians going to Spain are going through Morocco, and here they are often abused and subject to violence. This travel process is often traumatic. The trends of victims of human trafficking in Spain is that the victims are often young, and unaccompanied, they have low education and they are alone, pregnant or with child/children.

It is NGOs, doctors, social workers and police that detect trafficked human beings, and the identification of victims is done by the police together with the support from social mediators.  Police in cooperation with NGOs does the criminal investigation and the protection and integration of victims is done by NGOs and the state. However, it is difficult to identify and protect victims. This is because of different approaches in detecting and identifying victims, and the Spanish systems are weak – insufficient skills among workers, lack of general and specific knowledge and lack of facilities to address human trafficking.

The research also identified a repetitive spiral of trafficking, where the victim is rescued, but is lacking social and financial security, which leads to low self-esteem and can result in the victim is returning to prostitution, as it is a familiar environment.

Recommendations for fighting human trafficking in the future

Most of the organizations mentioned an extensive need for more collaboration, and broader networks of organizations – not collaboration only between organizations and specialists, but also with governments, municipalities, states and institutions, as well as collaboration across continents – organizations in Europe should work closely with local organizations and communities in Nigeria and other “source” countries.

There is also a need to develop better preventive and protective strategies aimed at youths, and teach them prevention skills early on.  There is a need for awareness campaigns and seminars to become more effective and widespread as well as developing a good anti-trafficking strategy.  Prevention campaigns targeting boys and men are also recommended in order to teach them that sexual exploitation is inhumane and to decrease the demand of sex trafficking.

Many organizations also called for the different governments to take more actions. They should condemn violence, adopt more strict laws, penalties and sanctions and ensure prober policies and legislations regarding human trafficking.

There was a common understanding among the partners of the conference that there is also a need for more professional training for frontline, specialists and NGOs, social workers, police and for anyone dealing directly with human trafficking. In addition, there is a great need for more personalized support and security for the victims.

Lastly, many of the organizations represented in the conference stated that there is a need for increased funding and support for organizations that work against human trafficking, especially specialized NGOs.  There is also a need to identify specific indicators aimed at detecting/identifying victims of human trafficking, as well as there is a need to carrying out more research.

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[:en]REST – Refugee Employment Support and Training[:]

[:en]

In the recent years the European labor market has been facing many different challenges, including skill shortage, ageing workforce and lack of motivated apprentices. The high number of refugees that have entered Europe in the recent years might be a solution to these problems – however companies are hesitant to hire refugees due to their unclear professional and educational background, their different culture and religion and their legal situation.

REST is a European project, co-financed by AMIF of the European Union with the aim to contribute to a better integration of refugees into the European labor market.  The project also works to encourage employers to recruit and integrate refugees in their business, which includes getting rid of the stigma surrounding refugee workers as well as how to deal with cultural and religious diversity in the workplace.

Integrating refugees into the labor market have many benefits – for the refugee, for the company and for the labor market. When it comes to the refugees, they will have income, they will have the opportunity to practice and become more fluent in the local language, expand their network and become more socially integrated. The companies will have the opportunity to get new perspectives, or learn new ways of doing specific tasks as the refugees possesses different work experiences and are custom to different ways of working. The companies will also learn new cultures and get a broader diversity among the employees, which will reflect well on the company’s image.  When it comes to the labor market, employing refugees and other minorities are important in overcoming prejudice, discrimination and stereotypes when it comes to immigrant workers, it will contribute to a broader and more diverse labor force, and last but not least, immigrant workers will contribute in a positive way in the economy and will be a solution to the aforementioned challenges in the labor market.

However, refugees face many barriers when it comes to entering the labor market. Discrimination and prejudice is central but the biggest barriers are administrational or legal – to get legal residence permit and work visa is a major challenge especially after the new regulations from 2018.  The new regulations have eliminate one form of protection for refugees – and now they can only apply for one year humanitarian protection, which can not be renewed but only exchanged into a work visa, and that is only possible of the refugee already have a job. Without a legal resident permit, the immigrants are not able to get a job and not able to banking service and many more services. Another obstacle is the application for a permanent resident permit, in order to be eligible the applicant have to finish schooling in Italy, and have valid identification – the latter poses the biggest problem – as many of the immigrants entering Italy don’t have identification.

As long as the refugees possess a legal resident permit – companies are able to employ and integrate them into their business. In order to increase the number of refugees in the labor market, it is necessary to train employers – here are some information employers might find useful:

  • Employers need to be as clear about tasks and expectations as possible – refugees are costumed to different work environments and in order to avoid miscommunication this is essential.
  • Employers should be flexible when it comes to religious and cultural diversity. Some religious/cultural aspects that the employer should know about are e.g. Ramadan, hijab and other religious/cultural clothing, handshake and other contact between man and women.
  • Employers should also be aware about the Italian constitution article 19 and 41, that protects the immigrant’s religious freedom.
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[:it]Daniel Gonzalo Salinero: Dopo due mesi di mobilità il progetto Ireti entra nel vivo della seconda fase[:]

[:it]Daniel Gonzalo Salinero

Cesare Pavese, uno dei più importanti scrittori italiani del XX secolo, disse che le persone non ricordano i giorni, ricordiamo i momenti. In questi due mesi ho goduto di molti momenti che ricorderò per sempre. Momenti che mi hanno permesso di incontrare nuove persone e imparare, imparare molto. Conoscere in prima persona la terribile realtà affrontata dalle donne nigeriane immigrate che lasciano le coste della Libia e arrivano in Sicilia dal lontano Benin. Anche queste donne portano nel loro scarso bagaglio poche cose ma molti ricordi, non sempre buoni. Da questa triste realtà siamo stati in grado di parlare con il rappresentante delle donne nigeriane in un caldo pomeriggio di maggio nel quartiere  ZEN. Ci ha detto che è stato tremendamente difficile risolvere il problema a causa del potere delle mafie e della pressione (economica e psicologica) che esercitano sulle donne, costrette a prostituirsi.

Problema, quello della prostituzione, di cui stavamo parlando in Casa Mediterranea delle Done in seguito all’attuazione di una sfortunata e controversa legislazione comunale in materia. In questo stesso spazio ho anche avuto il privilegio di partecipare a una celebrazione in cui le donne nigeriane del Benin ci hanno offerto delizie gastronomiche e danze tipiche del loro paese. Un buon modo per ricordare, i ricordi e la nostalgia del tuo paese di origine. Né voglio dimenticare la visita al potente centro di accoglienza per gli immigrati senza pretese nel centro storico dell’ex ospedale psichiatrico o sartoriale Sociale a spazio modello requisita l’altra mafia, locali, per uno scopo nobile: quello di formare persone che sono ai margini dell’esclusione sociale, gli immigrati in molti casi, in modo che possano accedere al mercato del lavoro.

Oltre a questo lavoro sul campo, lavorando tutti i giorni in ufficio Stato Brado è stata una bella esperienza per la cordialità delle persone che vi lavorano e gli splendidi dintorni (nel centro storico di una città affascinante). Tutto questo è solo una piccola parte di questo progetto IRETI, che mi ha dato un’opportunità unica di formare e sensibilizzare. Sono pienamente convinto che questo progetto contribuirà a risolvere questo problema per ottenere un cambiamento reale e non uno di quei famosi “cambiamenti” lampedusani nella terra di Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa sono ben noti (fare un cambiamento in modo che tutto ciò che rimane lo stesso) .

 

Settimane dopo aver partecipato al progetto Ireti, è tempo di trarre conclusioni. Prima di tutto, devo sottolineare che questo mi ha permesso di conoscere a fondo un tema caldo come il traffico di donne (immigrati di origine nigeriana, che implica una maggiore vulnerabilità). Poche persone conoscono il percorso che queste donne svolgono dal città del Benin alle coste della Libia nelle mani delle mafie che li sfruttano sessualmente, questa conoscenza ha rafforzato la mia convinzione che una soluzione urgente a questo problema dovrebbe essere cercata a livello governativo, dalle istituzioni. Il problema sta peggiorando, è consigliabile agire nel più breve tempo possibile.La ricerca di soluzioni non è stata facile ma dal progetto abbiamo contribuito con il nostro bit.In questa ricerca abbiamo partecipato diverse persone provenienti da diversi paesi con cui ho sviluppato un buon Pertanto, questo progetto mi ha dato cose molto positive nel campo personale. Per quanto riguarda il settore professionale, devo dire che Ireti ha rafforzato la mia esperienza in altri progetti extraeuropei.

Soprattutto nel campo della gestione sociale e dei problemi e nella ricerca di soluzioni. D’altro canto, il lavoro sul campo si arricchisce sempre professionalmente, non ho il minimo dubbio. Per concludere, devo sottolineare che l’Italia è uno dei miei paesi preferiti nel campo della ricerca, quindi qualsiasi attività professionale o accademica sviluppata in questo paese è un pilastro del mio sviluppo formativo.[:]

[:en]Human trafficking has become a global concern[:]

[:en]Human trafficking has become a global concern; it affects every continent and every type of community and economy. It has become a significant problem considering 161 countries are reported to be a source for human trafficking, a transition or destination countries for human trafficking. There are many challenges that exist in helping the women that are being forcibly trafficked into Italy, but here, in Palermo, I had the opportunity of meeting some amazing people and NGOs that are trying their best in assisting them into changing their life.

 

Among the first organizations we have been involved with was Donne di Benin city – at the ceremony to honor Oba of Benin City, who invoked his power as the spiritual leader of Benin kingdom to nullify all the oaths of secrecy administered on all victims of human trafficking and urged them to speak out and seek assistance.These women mostly survivors of human trafficking and forced prostitution, aim to offer mutual support and alternatives to the other victims , their effort is also to create a network with other organizations to empower the women, so that they can control their own life.Many of the women first forced to prostitute themselves now do a bit of everything: they create tailoring works with reuse materials but also catering, Nigerian and African ethnic cuisine, traditional dances and songs and typical hairstyles.

 

 

Another amazing NGO that reached out on helping the victims of sexual trafficking is Sartoria Sociale – an organization that trains  and eventually employs those women that are seeking a job in tailoring. Sartoria is a beautiful business model: they receive donations in form of textiles and clothes which they reuse, change or modify from scratch,having also 5 permanent employees such as social workers and teachers . Not to mention that they are backed by own funds and European projects, and the place they are using right now is a space confiscated from the Mafia.

 

 

 

 

What shocked me the most when I got to Palermo and I started volunteering was not  the aggressive approach of the human traffickers nor the unstable and violent environemnt but the compassion of  the people trying to help the ones in need, the resistence that they show despite all the obstacles they had to overcome.  For all this, it is truly justified that this project is called IRETI. In Yoruba, ireti means hope.

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[:en]Now back in England, slightly sad to have left Palermo[:]

[:en]IRETI: Palermo, Month 2

 

 

As I write this, my 2 months in Palermo have already, sadly, come to an end- but the work we have started has only just begun.

 

With the aim of my 2 months in Palermo being to learn about the realities of the sex trafficking of Nigerian women in Palermo through not only hearing the stories about these women, and meeting the people from their community, we were also able to visit the institutions and organisations within Palermo who not only helped these people, but helped others from their community such as other immigrants and women who have fallen victim to not only sex trafficking and prostitution, but also domestic violence.

 

Our learning of these realities began with shadowing our mentor for the project, Alessandra, whom not only works with women but also runs laboratories in Zen, an underdeveloped and less privileged municipality of Palermo, with the children in order to help improve their English skills, and give them a place to not only socialise with other children, but to give them a space in which they can focus on their school work, and add emphasis to the importance of their education. In addition to this, Alessandra also introduced us to ‘Spazio per le Donna’ which is a safe space for women who are victims of various types of abuse, and whilst there we were able to hear first hand the harsh realities of the Nigerian women who had been sex trafficked and the tales of the juju(African black magic) that had been used to try keep these women captured- a curse that has since been lifted by the Benin ‘chief’ (an important person in an African community)

 

In addition, Alessandra, a mentor who put her all into making sure we were able to see both the positive and negatives of Palermo also took us to the Santa Chiara community, a place that has been purposed to house the immigrants that have flocked to Palermo, a place that intends to look after the immigrants through housing and helping them with their Italian skills. Through my own research I was able to find another place similar to this in Palermo called Centro Astalli which also houses immigrants, teaches them Italian, and feeds and clothes them.

 

I’ve mentioned many times that Palermo is a beautiful city, and that the negatives that cripple the people of the city is such a contrasting juxtaposition, but to know that so many organisations such as SatoriaSociale, a place where former prison inmates, immigrants and those who have been victims of sex trafficking can come to learn tailoring skills and work, exist restore your faith in the beauty and strong sense of community that is Palermo.

 

In my 2 months, although they were too short for my liking, I was able to learn a lot about the realities of Palermo. As a Nigerian, it was so rewarding to see such a strong African culture, to be able to mix with them and meet with them, and to join in on events that brought people together regardless of whether or not they were for a negative thing, such as the memorial for one mans wife, Francis, whom we met through H.Y.R.O. His wife sadly passed away on a boat that sunk whilst trying to cross the waters to come to Palermo. The memorial, held at H.Y.R.O’s headquarters in StatoBrado, is just one example of a community coming together to offer support to one of their own, support that was all the more touching due to the Italian community coming together with the Nigerian in a wonderful exchange of culture.

 

Now back in England, slightly sad to have left Palermo, yet still overwhelmed, I feel privileged that I was able to experience first had the ying yang of such an authentic city, and plan to come back in the future to do more work that can help improve the state of the communities within the beautiful yet crazy, Palermo.[:]

[:it]Saffron from the UK tells us about her impressions of IRETI project[:]

[:it]Arriving to and being in Palermo is a strange, yet wonderful experience. An authentic robust city, filled to the brim with loud, rich culture. Palermo seems somehow untouched by society and the greater world, and I’ve been told quite a few times that Palermo is the closest thing, in terms of living, to Africa.

 

For me, as an African who has never been to the motherland, it’s very interesting to witness a community, which is likened to Africa, but it is even more interesting as the African community is prominent and proud. A walk through Ballaro will show you just how much, but there is a lingering question that remains whens coming across this community “Where are the women?”

 

The streets are dominated with males, and it makes me wonder, as someone who is in Palermo to work on the IRETI project, which explores the sex trafficking of the Nigerian Benin women with H.R.Y.O, where are the women of the African community? They’re rarely seen, and I then begin to wonder about the things I have learnt so far during my time here in this project.

 

Joining our mentor Alessandra to meetings quite often at Casa Mediterranea delle Donna, where we were able to meet with other women who worked with organisations revolving around Domestic Abuse, Women’s Rights, Prostitution and Sex Trafficking and creating safe spaces for women, I was able to learn of a law that has been implemented in Palermo, one that has banned women, during peak tourist times, to be within certain areas wearing revealing clothes. This was to defer those women who are either prostituting or have been sex trafficked from working in a space that the tourists, or the locals would see, causing them to hide, or worse, to be trafficked elsewhere.

 

It’s absurd to think that behind Palermo’s initial encapsulating charm, that below the surface lays a world that is rife with violence, drug abuse, sex trafficking and a government that would rather hide than protect. A world that not only makes you think about the safety of the migrant women, but one that makes you think of Palermo’s systems in whole.

 

The little I’ve seen, and the little I’ve learnt in my stay here has been both worrying and comforting- on one hand I see a community that seems tight knit, freedom, a village mentality and spaces that have been created to help migrants, integrate cultures, protect women and keep the community spirit of Palermo alive; and on the other, I’ve seen first hand the poverty, the lack of opportunities, the lack of societal structure and the divide in class and culture.

 

Still, without a doubt, I can say that I have fallen in love with this city and the way of life here, but more must be done.[:en]Arriving to and being in Palermo is a strange, yet wonderful experience. An authentic robust city, filled to the brim with loud, rich culture. Palermo seems somehow untouched by society and the greater world, and I’ve been told quite a few times that Palermo is the closest thing, in terms of living, to Africa.

 

For me, as an African who has never been to the motherland, it’s very interesting to witness a community, which is likened to Africa, but it is even more interesting as the African community is prominent and proud. A walk through Ballaro will show you just how much, but there is a lingering question that remains whens coming across this community “Where are the women?”

 

The streets are dominated with males, and it makes me wonder, as someone who is in Palermo to work on the IRETI project, which explores the sex trafficking of the Nigerian Benin women with H.R.Y.O, where are the women of the African community? They’re rarely seen, and I then begin to wonder about the things I have learnt so far during my time here in this project.

 

Joining our mentor Alessandra to meetings quite often at Casa Mediterranea delle Donna, where we were able to meet with other women who worked with organisations revolving around Domestic Abuse, Women’s Rights, Prostitution and Sex Trafficking and creating safe spaces for women, I was able to learn of a law that has been implemented in Palermo, one that has banned women, during peak tourist times, to be within certain areas wearing revealing clothes. This was to defer those women who are either prostituting or have been sex trafficked from working in a space that the tourists, or the locals would see, causing them to hide, or worse, to be trafficked elsewhere.

 

It’s absurd to think that behind Palermo’s initial encapsulating charm, that below the surface lays a world that is rife with violence, drug abuse, sex trafficking and a government that would rather hide than protect. A world that not only makes you think about the safety of the migrant women, but one that makes you think of Palermo’s systems in whole.

 

The little I’ve seen, and the little I’ve learnt in my stay here has been both worrying and comforting- on one hand I see a community that seems tight knit, freedom, a village mentality and spaces that have been created to help migrants, integrate cultures, protect women and keep the community spirit of Palermo alive; and on the other, I’ve seen first hand the poverty, the lack of opportunities, the lack of societal structure and the divide in class and culture.

 

Still, without a doubt, I can say that I have fallen in love with this city and the way of life here, but more must be done[:]

[:it]Tina from Romania shares her first impressions of IRETI project[:]

[:it]

There is no doubt that the idea of volunteering abroad is a big leap of faith into the unknown, so when I first heard about “IRETI- Empowering Women and Strengthening Socioeconomic Integration” project in Palermo, I just said “No”. I thought I had multiple reasons to refuse: I was feeling I was too old to participate. I was frightened not to accommodate easily in a new city and environment. I feared not being able to fully relate to the topic or simply not being able to help enough. But then, I started to wondering myself if finding excuses for not going, not trying or not helping are actually..not helping me? So, with this in mind, I decided to give it a try, after all, in the worst case scenario, I could just call it quits and just return home. Useless to say that wasn’t the case. My first week here passed in a heartbeat, adjusting myself living in Palermo being surprisingly easy, as was discovering Palermo’s rich culture, history and of course the vibrant nightlife.

As the days passed and we started focusing on our project here, I started feeling overwhelmed. Our first task here implied research work: getting to know better the phenomenon of human trafficking, and we found out alarming numbers. In 2014, the trickle of a few hundred women a year grew to nearly 1,500. The following year, it increased again to 5,600. In 2016, at least 11,009 Nigerian women and girls arrived on Italian shores. The numbers for  2018 are expected to be in the same ascending line. The journey, for these girls is a nightmare of abuse and violence, many are forced into prostitution already in Libya in the so-called connection houses to start paying the debt contracted with traffickers at the time of departure – which varies between 20 and 50 thousand euros – and that is often signed by a voodoo ritual, known as juju oath. They believe that if they don’t fulfill their obligations, demonic spirits would haunt them daily and eventually drive them mad. The help exists, though; some organizations or NGOs are fully committed in assisting them to break free from their traffickers. Unfortunately, most NGOs initiatives to change the status quo are blocked due to the lack of funds and of the authorities’ disengagement to resolve the problem. Only an extremely small part of victims of human trafficking are are placed in a safe house, which is supposed to try to integrate them into European life with school and job training, with the goal of becoming independent. Having this information gathered, I wondered how these women felt physically, psychologically and emotionally after they escaped from that hell. Well, I met them through Donne di Benin City, an organization whose goal is freeing the victims, but at the same time making the voices of the victims heard by the public institutions. As surprising as it may be, these brave women found strength to laugh, enjoy life and look forward to the future with optimism and hopefulness.[:en]There is no doubt that the idea of volunteering abroad is a big leap of faith into the unknown, so when I first heard about “IRETI- Empowering Women and Strengthening Socioeconomic Integration” project in Palermo, I just said “No”. I thought I had multiple reasons to refuse: I was feeling I was too old to participate. I was frightened not to accommodate easily in a new city and environment. I feared not being able to fully relate to the topic or simply not being able to help enough. But then, I started to wondering myself if finding excuses for not going, not trying or not helping are actually..not helping me? So, with this in mind, I decided to give it a try, after all, in the worst case scenario, I could just call it quits and just return home. Useless to say that wasn’t the case. My first week here passed in a heartbeat, adjusting myself living in Palermo being surprisingly easy, as was discovering Palermo’s rich culture, history and of course the vibrant nightlife.

As the days passed and we started focusing on our project here, I started feeling overwhelmed. Our first task here implied research work: getting to know better the phenomenon of human trafficking, and we found out alarming numbers. In 2014, the trickle of a few hundred women a year grew to nearly 1,500.

 

The following year, it increased again to 5,600. In 2016, at least 11,009 Nigerian women and girls arrived on Italian shores. The numbers for  2018 are expected to be in the same ascending line. The journey, for these girls is a nightmare of abuse and violence, many are forced into prostitution already in Libya in the so-called connection houses to start paying the debt contracted with traffickers at the time of departure – which varies between 20 and 50 thousand euros – and that is often signed by a voodoo ritual, known as juju oath.

 

They believe that if they don’t fulfill their obligations, demonic spirits would haunt them daily and eventually drive them mad. The help exists, though; some organizations or NGOs are fully committed in assisting them to break free from their traffickers. Unfortunately, most NGOs initiatives to change the status quo are blocked due to the lack of funds and of the authorities’ disengagement to resolve the problem. Only an extremely small part of victims of human trafficking are are placed in a safe house, which is supposed to try to integrate them into European life with school and job training, with the goal of becoming independent. Having this information gathered, I wondered how these women felt physically, psychologically and emotionally after they escaped from that hell.

 

Well, I met them through Donne di Benin City, an organization whose goal is freeing the victims, but at the same time making the voices of the victims heard by the public institutions. As surprising as it may be, these brave women found strength to laugh, enjoy life and look forward to the future with optimism and hopefulness.[:]