A story of love and work rooted in Europe and in the Pontificate of Pope Francis that risks being terminated by Brexit. Amelia Fiorillo, from the Italian city of Vibo Valentia, philosophy graduate, has just returned from her office after having nursed Samuele, born past November. He is taken care of by a Romanian babysitter while she does some part-time work at the Kairos agency for European intercultural exchanges, with three employees, that she set up in London with Daniele Trevisan, translator from Varmo, near Udine.
We Italian immigrants. A courageous choice, a challenge. The two left behind a good and secure salary to devote themselves to fulfilling their dream of a more inclusive society, especially for migrants, and to their relationship, from which was born Dario who will turn 3 next February. “We both arrived in London with the Leonardo programme and we met at ‘Language link’, an English language training organization. Daniele was a trainee and I was his manager”, said Amelia Fiorillo. “We were earning about 60 thousand pounds a year, but we still felt we lacked something. We shared the same passion for social issues and for migration in particular.” “We wanted the freedom to invest time and energy in a person or in a project without having to have an immediate economic return”, she said. “So we left everything to do a job that we liked best, using the funds granted by the European Union to improve ourselves as well as the society in which we live.”
The hospitality of the Scalabrini Fathers. This led to the establishment of Kairos (www.kairoseurope.co.uk), European training agency. “We began with projects under the Erasmus programme, then we applied for European funds working from home. Until the Scalabrinian Fathers from London’s Holy Redeemer church and parish, at 20 Brixton Road, offered us this office without asking for a deposit and also helped us from the fiscal point of view”, said Daniele Trevisan. The yearning to help political refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants led to the creation of the “ARISE” project – Analysing Refugee Inclusion in Southern Europe – launched in 2007, whose purpose is to challenge populism. It will provide 70 English professionals with the opportunity to attend training courses on migration in Italy.
Various stakeholders. London’s King’s College, the Amirah Foundation, a charity for women and children victims of domestic violence, Migrants Resource Centre, Red Ochre and Young Roots, providing support to migrants, Elfrida, specialised in social inclusion courses, Caritas Italy and the Scalabrini Missionaries in Calabria cooperate in the project.
Meeting in Lamezia Terme. Those selected will arrive by plane to the Italian town of Lamezia Terme to attend a six-day training course run by members of non-governmental organizations and representatives of municipalities and regions. The program includes panel debates on various aspects of migration as well as visits to SPRAR Centers (protection system for asylum seekers and refugees) Participants will also be shown some examples of widespread programs of welcome, called for by Pope Francis, whereby families and communities welcome political refugees and economic migrants with open arms.
Italy sets the standard… “The formula of the courses is very flexible, with classes and study groups. British universities have shown a great interest in having first-hand experience of migrant reception and the impact on local communities”, we were told by Kairos managers. “The UK has a great tradition of openness that dates back to the immigrants from former British colonies. As Italians we can learn from this past, while British people are attracted by the human aspect of contemporary migration, the form of welcome that Italians are carrying out in an exemplary manner.”
Tolerance and dialogue. Another Kairos project due to begin in April is “Migrants in Europe: promoting inclusion, tolerance and dialogue”, financed by ISFOL European agency. It will involve Italians working in the area of migration who will travel to the UK to learn English modes of reception. The latter, owing to their geographic position, were never faced with situations of emergency that Italians have become experts in.
Brexit’s stumbling block. Is there a plan B? In case of a “hard” Brexit all funds would be cut. “We don’t have one”, Amelia and Daniele replied. “The Ecorys agency that manages European funds, which our work depends on, assured us that we could continue working until 2020. After then we shall see. It’s useless to worry for something we are uncertain about. We have decided to live these years that are so special for our family without worries.” Kairos is a dream come true in our profession and in our private life. The key is “our strong faith in God and in humanity. For if you truly believe, there will always be someone there to help you”, Amelia concluded.