Don Bosco at Rosarno, solidarity and integration
Don Bosco at Rosarno, solidarity and integration
Rosarno (Italy). This year the Feast of St. John Bosco had a different flavor. It was lived in the sign of solidarity and integration.
Rosarno is a municipality of approximately 16,000 inhabitants in the province of Reggio Calabria. The FMA community arrived there in 1945 and is presently composed of 9 Sisters who work in the nursery school, Center for Professional Formation, Oratory and in parish activities.
During the month of January the newspapers and TV broadcasts of the world reported the “events of Rosarno” that took place last January 7th , the day on which there was a revolt by the immigrants who reacted with violence at being attacked by some inhabitants of the place. For a few day the little city lived times of great tension. Many immigrants who are in Rosarno working in collecting the citrus harvest were sent away from the city and the inhabitants of Rosarno lived the fearful times of the revolt. Later, however, after it seemed that calm had returned to the city, there were those who began to reflect. Everyone was seeking to understand what they could do to avoid the point at arriving at a clash. The immigrant workers had been in Rosarno for many years. There had never been tensions with the people of the place, and the institutions, among which there was the world of the school, had been working on integration projects for some time. But something was not working. The workers were all living in la Rognetta”, a type of slum without an infrastructure. Now it has been demolished and the city is trying to react. It wants to show the world that it is not racist, but rather working for integration and cooperation.
It is precisely in this view that the State School R.Piria , the municipality of Rosarno , the Civil Service Volunteers, Social Services, along with the FMA community prepared to celebrate the Feast of Don Bosco.
On the morning of the 30th there was a gathering of the students entitled “Simply Together” in the school auditorium. The aim was to reflect on what had happened at Rosarno and to seek to understand which steps need to be taken so that what happened will not be repeated. Sr. Leontine Sonyi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was invited and she spoke of her experience of Salesian Life and how difficult it is, especially at the beginning, for a person who arrives from another culture to settle in a foreign land, and which are the things that cause problems, but she also presented the positive side of integration and multi-culture.
In addressing the young people said:” You are the motor of society , you are the heart of the world and if the heart does not beat strongly, everything stops. The hope for building together is in your hands, just as Don Bosco pointed out to his young people.”
The talks by the representatives of institutions emphasized that some measures such as the regularization of visas and work contracts, and making the habitations of the immigrant workers livable were steps that should have been taken and now are more necessary than ever. The young people of the school proudly showed what they had done, animated by their principal, to seek paths of integration.
At the conclusion of the gathering, however, there was not yet a feeling of complete satisfaction. All knew in their heart that there was still much to be done. Until the immigrants will continue to be immigrants and not citizens of Rosarno, there can be no talk of integration. And all, personally and in private, not only during public manifestations, must ask themselves which stereotypes they harbor in the perception of the foreigners in their land and in their lives.
The Feast of Don Bosco was later continued in the Oratory and in the parish. On Sunday morning, the pastor Fr. Pino Varrà spoke during the homily saying that the desire for peace and solidarity can be realized in the measure in which each person puts his/her own will and concrete actions at the disposition of their dreams. Otherwise the dreams will remain merely a utopia.
After the Mass there was a launch of colored balloons to which each child had attached a heart on which were was written a promise, a desire, and it was a sign of wanting to begin again, together. During the evening, the celebration continued with songs and dances at the oratory. At Rosarno, Don Bosco invited the young people to become bearers of tolerance and integration. It had to move beyond every partisan interest, every political ideology, beyond every threat of organized crime which, sad to say, exists strongly in this land.
Every story can be told from different sides. This one has been written of Rosarno to objectively denounce what was missing with regard to the world of foreign workers. We have chosen to write of Rosarno to tell what the inhabitants of this city and a good part of the young people seek to do in their daily life, without much noise, sharing what they have and what they are wit those most in need.