The "Il Faro" (Lighthouse) Foundation offers free professional training courses to refugees and Italians in Rome. It's a way to help young people find jobs. Integration and intercultural understanding have become important factors.
"It's a way to welcome everyone, to understand people's stories and their needs," says Gianni Del Bufalo, the foundation's general director.
The 'Il Faro' Foundation offers its services to Italians between 17 and 30 years of age, refugees and asylum seekers. Students learn how to make pizzas, sandwiches and chocolate and the necessary skills for working in a bar, a gelato shop or a pastry shop. It also offers courses in carpentry, hairstyling and computers.
The foundation trains about 200 young people every year. Half of its students are foreigners, of which 90 percent are refugees. "For migrants we offer a psychological support service. Those who participate in the courses learn how to be together. We have examples of classes with people of different nationalities, cultures and religions, who end up becoming friends. This is our true success," Del Bufalo said.
The foundation has trained about 4,000 young people in 20 years, with about 60 percent of those trained finding work after completing courses. The courses are funded by private and banking foundations, donors, and regional grants from the European Social Fund (ESF). It collaborates with the Astalli Centre, which runs an Italian language school within the foundation, as well as a SPRAR (Protection System for Refugees and Asylum Seekers) Center.
In addition to its two-month courses, the foundation also offers low-cost courses of a shorter duration for those staying at the SPRAR centre. Course enrollment takes place online and demand is high. "For four training courses with 15 places each, we had 400 applications and we filled the positions within seven minutes after enrollment opened," Del Bufalo said. Applicants are chosen through an Italian language test for foreigners and an interview on the applicant's motivations. "When we first started, 80 percent of applicants were young Italians. Now there's a substantial balance between Italians and foreigners".
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