Italy Reaching Out to Boat Refugees

Ester Montefalcone, National Director  of Youth for Christ in Italy

photo courtesy

photo courtesy

In the past few years, Italy has been receiving thousands of people from Africa who cross the Mediterranean on boats in search of a better future. Italy is the gateway to Europe for them. So many tragic stories happen on those boats.

Thousands of them end up in these big facilities that the government has organised and they live there for months waiting for paperwork and for a final destination in a place where they can get a job. One can only imagine how this is handled in a country where the economy is not growing.

Youth for Christ staff in Italy have been praying and researching what to do with limited resources.

Over these past weeks God has opened a door right down the street from our office. There has been a refugee camp for adults there for a long time and the church I go to has done several things with them. In the past month a group of 47 minors have been sent there, even though they are not a centre for minors, just because of lack of space elsewhere.

A social worker found Youth for Christ’s flyer for camp and asked if they could send the young  refugees to camp. Unable to host so many refugees at camp, we were able to offer them space for two. This has opened
a conversation with the centre, and during camp, several staff and camp volunteers went to visit the refugee centre. Everyone was very welcoming, including people from Gambia, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Mali and many others. While it is heartbreaking to see what so many African refugees are enduring, we are excited about the prospect of future ministry to these young people.

Meaningful relationships are starting to be built as some of the young people are accepting invitations to visit the local church site.

Thank you for praying for these lonely and desperate young people, and for our team as we try to minister to them through various activities, such as teaching Italian language and culture and playing various games.