From Copenhagen to Palermo: story of a successfull project

Today we are going to tell you about a new experience, at least for us, and highly formative for those involved: a European exchange with an interesting Danish company, as part of the Erasmus + project.

What is the Erasmus + project ?

The European Erasmus + project offers mobility and cooperation opportunities for education and personal training not only to young students, but also to workers who, through the mutual exchange of work management practices, want to test themselves and face constructive changes for their working realities.

The subjects involved and the program

In addition to Addiopizzo Travel, two associations were involved in this exchange: Addiopizzo and the Danish association Fonden Kantara (Resource center Ydre Nørrebro). The duration of the project was a total of six days, divided between the Kantara site in Copenhagen and the Addiopizzo site in Palermo. The six days were developed through a clear programming of presentations and group work, in order to allow all participants to get to know each other and to develop action plans necessary for their activities.

Between the realities of the Addiopizzo world (the association and the cooperative) and the Danish association, there are different points of contact and similarities, despite the differences related to geographical, historical and social factors.

The danish association Kantara

The Kantara association represents a recreational and educational center for young boys, between 13 and 18 years old, who live in one of Copenhagen's ghettos, Nørrebro: a multi-ethnic neighborhood, with a high presence of criminal gangs, involved in the traffic of the drug. What catched our attention immediately was the improper use of the term "ghetto" given to this neighborhood; in fact the tranquility, the cleanliness, the beauty and the particularity of each building and house, make everything necessary as long as it is in a disreputable neighborhood.

This denomination, in fact, leads to a high level of social and ethnic discrimination that is suffered by those who are part of it.

The goal of the association is therefore precisely to actively involve young children, through various educational and sporting activities, to give them greater social integration.

The analogies with Addiopizzo

For some time Addiopizzo has not only dealt with assisting victims of racketeering, but tries to involve especially the youngest, with various types of activities in neighborhoods with a high rate of poverty and crime. In particular, the association plays a crucial role in supporting families and children who live in the Piazza Magione neighborhood.

This district, in fact, despite being one of the most important squares in the historic center of Palermo, is also one of the most difficult areas to live in, especially for children and young people who, experiencing their daily difficulties, lose all potential opportunities and experiences, to which they would be entitled.

The most signicatives experiences

Several experiences have been carried out in these 6 days, between meetings, tours and various presentations, it was possible to combine training with fun.
Certainly among the most significant were:

  • Nørrebro's tour leding by the very nice Shuaib, a boy who, during his adolescence, frequented the association assiduously, only to become a volunteer.
  • Trying various specialties of Middle Eastern cuisine, given the presence of different ethnic groups in the neighborhood.
  • Visiting all the significant places and also the less frequented districts of Copenhagen.
  • Listening to the stories and various testimonies of some extortion victims, such as the Cottone brothers (owners of the La Braciera pizzeria) and Shayn ( owner of several shops in the historic center) in the Addiopizzo headquarters in Palermo. Although their testimonies show the suffering they have endured over the years, their determination, courage and resilience, given by themselves and the constant help of Addiopizzo in the cause, meant that they could be inspiring. for everyone.
  • Last but not least, getting to know the volunteers and young people of the association who, throughout the duration of the exchange, have always shown their active interest and affection for the project and for each of us.

What this exchange left us

Through this type of experience it was possible to observe two different types of "poverty", one at a social and ethnic level and the other linked above all to economic difficulties, which the two different associations have to deal with every day.

The goal of the project, therefore, was to strengthen the skills of the workers and volunteers of the partner organizations, in order to improve the capacity of the two realities and to favor the employment prospects of young people in the territories in which the associations involved, they insist.